Perth County OPP Auxiliary fill cruiser, prisoner van with toys

By Dan Rankin

Pictured with a shiny new Maple Leafs bicycle (with training wheels, just like the bikes the Leafs' rookies use), from left, are St. Marys Lincolns players Alessio Luciani and Clayton Lewis, OPP Constable Barry Cookson, OPP Auxiliary Constable Ali Leslie, OPP Auxiliary Constable Erin Wells and Salvation Army Major Pamela Stanger. They were collecting toys outside Canadian Tire in St. Marys on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Pictured with a shiny new Maple Leafs bicycle (with training wheels, just like the bikes the Leafs’ rookies use), from left, are St. Marys Lincolns players Alessio Luciani and Clayton Lewis, OPP Constable Barry Cookson, OPP Auxiliary Constable Ali Leslie, OPP Auxiliary Constable Erin Wells and Salvation Army Major Pamela Stanger. They were collecting toys outside Canadian Tire in St. Marys on Saturday, Dec. 10.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, members of the Perth County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Auxiliary Unit volunteered their time, teaming up with the Salvation Army for annual toy drives in St.Marys and Listowel. In a press release, OPP Media Relations Officer Kees Wijnands said their aim was to help make Christmas extra special for needy children in those communities this year. Here in St. Marys posted in front of Canadian Tire, a Perth County OPP GMC Savanna prisoner van and a cruiser were stuffed full with toys. They also collected $450 in cash which was used to purchase additional toys.  The toys were dropped off at the St.Marys Salvation Army building from where they will be distributed to local families.

Despite this happy news, Major Pamela Stanger at the Salvation Army food bank said that the number of households relying on their support is up this year. “Our numbers are up to nearly 140 households from 127 last year right before Christmas, including last minute walkups,” she said, adding that this year there are larger households in need of support from the food bank.

“Last year mainly food and toys were in demand, but this year it’s also bedsheets, pillows, small kitchen appliances such as toasters and tea kettles,” she said. High demand foods include soups, breakfast cereals and juices.

Over the weekend, a column by Tristan Hopper of The National Post entitled “For the love of God, stop donating canned goods to the food bank” went viral on social media. It argued that people would do better to donate cash directly to the food bank, rather than donating traditional non-perishable food goods. Stanger said that’s not the case in St. Marys.

“We’re more than happy to receive canned donations,” she said. “That’s how we’re able to survive. All donations are always welcome.”

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