Each year, a gymnasium in the downtown core transforms into a one-stop shop that allows local parents and caregivers to shop for Christmas gifts for their kids, and it's all free thanks to the generosity of Winnipeggers and the Salvation Army.
"The Salvation Army runs a Christmas toy program through our Weetamah location," Kristin Marand from the Salvation Army says. "It is located right in the core on Logan Ave., and we offer a number of services through there. But one of our biggest ones is our toy program at Christmas, and registration is open right now. So, if there are families that are having a hard time this Christmas and need a hand up, they can register with us, and we'll set them up with an appointment."
The toys come from other Winnipeggers who generously donate new, unwrapped toys. This year, CHVN and the Salvation Army are partnering to gather toys for the program with Holiday Heroes, a special two-day event on Friday, November 17, and Saturday, November 18. CHVN DJs and staff will be live on location at the Kenaston Walmart (1665 Kenaston Blvd.) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, collecting your donations! Those who cannot make it down in person can also donate online to help more toys be purchased.
Once families are registered, they come down to Weetamah, where the team at the Salvation Army converts a gymnasium into a toy store each year leading up to Christmas.
The opportunity to come into the space and pick for themselves the gifts their children would like is one of the best gifts we can give anyone, Marand points out.
"It's nice to get a gift, it's nice to get help, but when you're able to have an actual shopping experience as well, there's a lot of dignity in that. It feels good all around, and who knows the kids better than the parents, right? They're going to know whether they're into superheroes, or colouring books and crafts, versus an outdoor activity or something like that."
Last year, the Salvation Army's toy store ensured that 6,100 kids woke up with gifts on Christmas morning. By partnering with CHVN, we're hoping to reach even more children this year. That's important because, as Marand points out, inflation has caused a strain on even more families.
Demand will increase significantly this year, and the CHVN family has the opportunity to help alleviate some of that demand. Please join us and help us bless local kids and families this year!
Those who come down to make a donation will also get bonus entries into the CHVN Ticket Window. On Monday, November 20, we'll make draws for:
- A pair of tickets to Disney On Ice
- Tickets to see Journey to Bethlehem
- Tickets to see The Color at A Colorful Christmas Tour
- Tickets to see Micah Tyler and evangelist Nick Hall at the Reason Tour in Grand Forks, ND
Join us live on location Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.! Bring the whole family and come pick out a gift - we'll even help you make the perfect choice, if you like.