The Sooke Harbourside Lions in 2011 in their toy shop.

Toys for Kids program begins

Sooke Harbourside Lions gather toys, new and used, for needy kids

The Sooke Harbourside Lions are putting on their 27th annual Toys for Kids program to make sure every child has a Christmas full of cheer.

The project, which is a partnership with the Sooke Christmas Bureau, supplies families in need with toys for their children during the holiday season.

According to Maggie Vause, Toys for Kids committee chair, the program is one of the top priorities for the Sooke Harbourside Lions. The women fundraise throughout the year for the project, which costs about $10,000 to run.

The Lions supply used toys and books, and one new toy, valued at $25, to children registered for the program. Applications are handled by the Christmas Bureau.

“It’s great,” Vause said of the event. “It’s great taking the parents around. You have lots of people in tears, and we have people come… and help us because we’ve helped them.”

The Toy Shop is set up in the dining room of the Sooke Community Hall. The room is filled with tables and tables of toys, manned by Sooke Harbourside Lions, who are familiar with the items at their stations.

Parents then tour around the Toy Shop and select toys for their children.

“They go around and they pick up all these things, so they usually end up with a big bag for each child,” Vause said.

Last year, the Toys for Kids program had 461 children registered, a number which has been consistent over the years, according to Vause.

“It’s pretty steady year after year.”

But despite the high demand, the Sooke Harbourside Lions have ensured each registered family has been serviced.

A food hamper program run by the Christmas Bureau takes place at the same time.

The Toy Shop will be open on Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Applications for the program, which is a part of the application for the food hamper program, are available at the Sooke Crisis Centre, CASA and the Sooke Food Bank.

Applicants are required to be families in need and residents of the Sooke area.

To donate a used or new toy, visit one of 20 drop-off boxes located at different businesses and offices around Sooke. Monetary donations can be sent to the Sooke Harbourside Lions at: P.O. Box 114, Sooke, B.C. V9Z 0E5.