By Alessandra Micieli
‘Tis the season to start thinking about the less fortunate, as Humber’s early childhood education students start collecting toys for the annual Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive.
Students from Humber College’s ECE student council and the University of Guelph-Humber’s Early Childhood Society have taken the initiative to gather toys for less fortunate children. Donated toys are being collected in M200, which is the office for the School of Health Sciences at Humber’s North campus.
Janos Csepreghi, executive officer with the Toronto Professional FireFighters Association, told Humber News he has volunteered at the toy drive for a number of years.
“The toy drive is like a food bank for kids,” said Csepreghi. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it.”
Rick Berenz, an active captain in Toronto fire operations is the president of the Toronto Firefighters annual holiday toy drive. Berenz told Humber News since Toronto was amalgamated in 1998, all the Toronto fire toy drives have been combined into one.
Berenz also said the toy drive works hard every year to reach out to many children who come from low-income households.
“We distribute 25,000 toys to children in need,” said Berenz. “Our two major contributors are the public and our corporate sponsors.”
Berenz said since the Toronto Firefighters run the toy drive on a low budget (roughly $7,000), they rely on their corporate sponsors. In 2006, the Toronto Firefighters partnered up with Global to help spread awareness of the drive.
“We were able to establish a relationship with Global as our media sponsor,” said Berenz. “The growth of the toy drive really took off when Global partnered with us.”
The Toronto Firefighters also take on the initiative to give back to families who have lost everything in their homes due to house fires. The Burnout Fund was established to ensure children who were affected by house fires have a bit of joy during the holiday season.
“If there’s a family where they are burned out of their home, and there’s children involved, toys will be distributed,” said Berenz.
The ECE student council is continuing to take donations until Friday, Nov. 15. The Toronto Firefighters are urging people to donate gift cards for those ages 12 years and above, since there is a need for gifts within this specific age group.