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Batshaw Christmas drive: It may not be Santa’s workshop, but it’s close

WESTMOUNT – In the belly of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres lies a cramped room that looks like any other room inside the complex. Open the door and the room is bursting with presents, the end result of the organization’s annual Christmas present drive.

“This is a very labour-intensive deal, it starts almost the day after Christmas that we think about it,” said Judy Martin, Batshaw’s board president.

Martin spoke while standing in a room crammed with about a thousand gifts earmarked for about as many wards of the service. The drive went from a 12-person potluck to a full-blown annual charity that involves several companies and individuals.

LinkNow Media, for instance, put together a talent show that netted about $4,300 plus presents. Volunteers,  many of whom are Batshaw employees, wrap the presents.

The program is the baby of Batshaw archivist Frank Campanile, who pointed to a stack of papers — Christmas lists filled out by the clients of the organization.

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“Every sheet there is a request from a kid with what he wants to ask Santa for the holidays,” he said.

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Some wards of Batshaw are striking out on their own for the first time. Rather than a typical request like Mega Bloks or video games, they generally ask for more mundane things needed to start a new life.

Campanile picked up a broom and showed it to a reporter. It’s the sort of common household item that a typical 18-year-old might ask for, he said.

The drive distributes presents to more than 1,000 Batshaw clients every year.

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