Corus Radio London is looking to make the holiday season a little merrier for those in the Forest City as its toy drive for The Salvation Army makes its annual return.
On Thursday, Global News Radio 980 CFPL and its sibling stations FM96, Country 104 and 103.1 Fresh Radio are collecting donations as part of their 12 Hours of Hope broadcast, which features wall-to-wall content on the local charity campaign that’s been serving London, Ont., for more than 10 years.
This year’s campaign marked the second time it allowed for monetary donations online, a virtual option to help accommodate health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but local do-gooders still had a chance to drop off toys at several locations around the city.
By the end of the day Thursday, organizers revealed the campaign had raised a total of $43,369 between online donations, cash and cheques.
Proceeds and toy donations will go toward The Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper program, which provides those in need with a food hamper and gift card to help them enjoy a traditional Christmas celebration over the holidays.
Thousands of people in the region have received help from the program over the years, including Londoner Trudy Kitchen, who now finds herself in a position where she’s able to pay it forward.
“It is one of the things I look forward to every year…. For me to be able to give back now, it’s incredibly important to me,” Kitchen said.
“That’s something that we taught our daughter because she’s the reason we went looking for help and she’s the reason we give back now.”
With about 4,900 people signed up for the Christmas Hamper program already, The Salvation Army’s program services manager Nancy Kerr says demand is at an all-time high, something she’s heard from other community partners as well.
“Throughout the year, more people were having to use food banks, so we were expecting that we would likely see a higher amount of people trying to access our program,” Kerr said, adding that the charity is in need of “a little bit of everything” to help fill the Christmas Hampers.
“We are low on toys for the little ones, the two-and-under. Usually, the nine- to 12-year-olds is a challenge. This year that’s been a bit better, so it’s all ages.”
As for the toy drive, the campaign first began more than 10 years ago on what was then The Taz Show on FM96.
“We’ve always been impressed, since Day 1, with the generosity of the Taz & Jim listeners and the FM96 listeners in our community, but our expectations keep getting exceeded and hopefully it’s the same thing this year,” Taz said.
Toys can be dropped off on Thursday at Collins Clothiers at 297 Adelaide St. S. or at Wolf Motorcycles at 1331 Hyde Park Rd.
The London Fire Department’s Station #1 on Horton Street will be accepting donations until Dec. 17.
Westmount Shopping Centre, CF Masonville Place and White Oaks Mall will be hosting a drop-off location until Dec. 24.
The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope at 281 Wellington St. is also open 24 hours for donations.