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Cops deliver toys to the North

Kira Curtis
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Crates of toys landed at the Yellowknife airport on Dec. 16, right into the ready hands of the RCMP. But don't worry, these toys aren't fugitives, they're part of around 4,000 toys collected in Toronto's Santa Claus Parade in a "Toys for the North" initiative.

NNSL photo/graphic

Toys pile up in front of the First Air plane that delivered them from Toronto to Yellowknife for the "Toys for the North" campaign to get presents to families who need them by Christmas. - Kira Curtis/NNSL photo

This is the first year of the campaign to make sure kids in the North have a gift this Christmas. RCMP from Ontario worked with officers in the northern territories to find families in need of toys this holiday season and list what kinds and how many.

Sgt. Wayne Norris said because RCMP members are in so many communities in the north, they were ideal to find out what toys were needed in the communities and deliver them for Christmas.

"It made sense for us to be involved in this adventure." Norris said, "We're the one federal agency in most of the communities."

This year around 4,000 toys were collected in Canada's longest-running festive parade, Toronto's Santa Claus Parade.

On Nov. 21, during the 106th annual parade, Ontario RCMP collected toys from spectators who were donating them for the campaign. The goods were then sent north and distributed between the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut.

To help make sure the donations find their way safely into the many homes across Canada's North, First Air has covered the shipping into the communities. They will work with the RCMP to fly the gifts to members who can deliver them.

"(We'll deliver) within the next few days," said Mike Olsen with First Air. "Certainly before Christmas we will have these toys delivered."

First Air flights landed in Yellowknife with around 760 toys allocated for the NWT. That amount will be delivered to 21 different communities in the territory including two in Yellowknife. Ndilo and Dettah will receive some of these special gifts by the time Santa arrives, and Norris said there is a number of extra toys that the members will bring to the Centre for Northern Families.

In RCMP fanfare, "G" Division commanding officer Wade Blake was met with deputy commanding officer of Western Canada Gary Bass to show their support.

Other sponsors chipped in along the way, including batteries from Duracell Canada to provide power for all battery operated toys come Christmas morning.

"Duracell stepped up and said: 'You know, we've got to get you guys batteries,'" said Norris.

He now faces the tough job of dividing up the right toys and getting them under the right trees before Santa.

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