In a year of disruption and uncertainty, the Women’s Centre’s Holiday Toy Room program hopes to bring a bit of relief and holiday joy to Calgary women and their families.

Each year, for 10 days in December, the Women’s Centre’s space is transformed into a gift centre. In the weeks leading up to the program we receive a steady stream of toy donations from drives hosted by individuals, teams and businesses. The items go into our basement to be sorted and organized. When toy room opens, we bring the items upstairs to our toy room area and place them on tables grouped into age categories. Women visit our space for their appointment and are greeted by volunteer ‘shoppers’ who will assist them with gift selection. We have a roaring (T.V.) fire and play holiday music. With the support of volunteers, women choose gifts for their children and also themselves. We serve tea, coffee and pastries. When women finish their ‘shopping’, volunteers wrap the gifts, and women have one less to-do item on their holiday preparation lists.

Last year, over 1300 women and over 2800 children relied on our Toy Room as a holiday resource. And this was supported by almost 300 volunteers. We anticipate the need for this program to be equal, if not greater, this year. And with many of Calgary’s employees now working from home, and COVID-19 restrictions impacting holiday parties, we have lost a major stream for collecting toy donations this year. Also due to COVID, we have modified some of the logistics around how we run the program in order to have women and volunteers safely in the space. But what remains the same this year is that this program cannot run without the support of individuals, businesses, and community organizations.

There are three ways in which you can choose to support the 2020 Holiday Toy Room program this year. You can donate money, donate toys, and/or volunteer. Details on each option and some new partnerships this year to facilitate some of these options are below:

Option 1 – Donate Money

You can donate funds to the Holiday Toy Room program by completing our online donation form here. When you fill out the online form, you can specify that you would like your donation to be used for our Holiday Toy Program. Your donation is tax-deductible and the Women’s Centre will issue charitable tax receipts for donations over $20.

Option 2 – Donate Toys or Organize a Toy Drive

We are asking for assistance from Calgarians to donate gifts for women and their children. We accept new, unwrapped donations for newborns up to and including 18 years old. aged 8-11 years and 12-18 years are in most demand. We are also in need of gifts for women. We recommend selecting gifts in the $25-$35 price range. There are lists of recommended options for every group available on our website: https://www.womenscentrecalgary.org/donate/toy-room/.

The Women’s Centre has partnered with locally owned and operated Castle Toys to facilitate online gift donations for the Centre. They are offering promo-codes for 20% off your purchase for the Centre. Please visit our website for more details and visit Castle Toys website for gift ideas.

Consider organizing a toy drive for our Holiday Toy Room. We encourage Toy Drive organizers to donate gifts before our Toy Room opens on December 8, but we will accept Toy Drive donations between November 1 and December 22. Toy Drive donations can be dropped off at the Women’s Centre, 39 4 Street NE, or arrange to have them picked up at your organization. We’ve also partnered with Best Buy Canada who is proud to be collecting new and unwrapped toys for the Women’s Centre 2020 Toy Drive at all of their Calgary locations.

Option 3 – Volunteer

This program would also not be possible without volunteers. Opportunities are available for sorting, shoppers, and toy drive pick up. Full details on volunteer positions, and arrangements for drop off, or to have a Women’s Centre staff or volunteer pick up donations can be made by contacting Diane, diane@womenscentrecalgary.org or 403-264-1155.

Thank you so much for your support. We look forward to a somewhat modified, but still successful Toy Room program this year.

 

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