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COVID-19 prompts food and toy drives in Penticton to roll into one

Penticton high school students surrounded by donations from the 2019 Toys for Tots and Teens drive in 2019. For 2020, organizers say new health restrictions forced them to combine 10,000 Tonight and the Toys for Tots and Teens campaigns under one umbrella: Penticton Provides. Submitted

An annual food drive and toy drive in the South Okanagan have been rolled into one because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For years, high school students in Penticton have combined forces to collect donations for area food banks under the 10,000 Tonight banner.

At the same time, they sought out donations for the Toys for Tots and Teens campaign.

The two drive-thru campaigns have been brought under one drop-off effort: Penticton Provides.

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In previous years, the goal of 10,000 Tonight was to collect 10,000 items. Last year, 19,729 items were donated.

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“Getting close to 20,000 items in a night … to see the amount of food is staggering. It fills two cube vans,” said Penticton Secondary School vice principal Sandra Richardson.

“And to see students working this way, it fills your heart with goodness.”

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Last year’s Toys for Tots and Teens campaign saw around 1,200 donations.

This year’s goals are 1,000 toys, 10,000 food items and $20,000.

Jordan Picheniuk, a senior at Penticton Secondary, hopes to break those numbers this year.

“It’s always been an event tied to the school and tied to the students, and it’s always been a huge drive for our community during such an important time of the year,” he said.

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“It’s a time of giving, it’s a time of caring and we’ve always been part of it.”

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The Penticton Provides campaign, which runs from Nov. 26 to Dec. 10, is the result of the new provincial health restrictions that prohibit drive-thru events.

“To see them rally behind yet another change has been so impressive,” said Richardson. “Their ability to adapt on the fly fills me with confidence, hope and inspiration.”

Richardson said the students’ enthusiasm is remarkable, adding “to watch them develop this with COVID protocols has been impressive.”

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To donate to Penticton Provides, all public schools in Penticton will offer drop-off points, along with bins at Walmart, Superstore, Safeway, Save-On-Foods, IGA and Canadian Tire.

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Financial donations are also being accepted. For more information, click here.

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