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’Tis the season to give back

As the holiday season revs up, children’s charities swing into gear aswell, hoping to provide toys, hope and a lot of joy to kids in thegreatest need.

As the holiday season revs up, children’s charities swing into gear as well, hoping to provide toys, hope and a lot of joy to kids in the greatest need.

Across Canada, the Children’s Wish Foundation takes aim at making kids’ dreams literally come true by fulfilling their personal wishes, no matter what they may be. The organization works with donors, and volunteers to fulfill requests from eligible kids between the ages of three and 17 who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

Paul St-Germain, a director at the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, says that after 25 years of fulfilling wishes for children, the people involved with Children’s Wish know one thing is for certain: Kids’ wish requests are as creative and varied as they are.

Disney World visits and celebrities meet-ups top the list, such as the case of one girl with Leukemia who wanted to meet Robin Williams — she did, handing him a hand-drawn collage of all the animated characters he’s ever voiced while Williams spent the day with her in between film takes.

From one girl in Manitoba who dreamed of having her own white horse to a young boy on the East Coast who’s only wish was to have his grandparents be able to move closer to him from Edmonton, kids have come up with some real doozies and Children’s Wish has made sure to follow through.

“Each wish is a unique as the child who wishes it — no two wishes are the same. We’re dedicated to working within the community to let children with life threatening illnesses to realize their most heartfelt wish,” St-Germain said.

The organization fills about 900 wish requests each year across Canada and St-Germain says the joy a fulfilled wish brings affects not only the kids and their families but the volunteers and donors who make it all possible as well.

“The benefit is almost immeasurable. (A fulfilled wish) helps not only the children cope with the illness but the family as a whole to reconnect and focus on something other than the illness. It’s life-changing both for the children and families and the people who participate in doing it,” St-Germain said.

For kids whose families are enduring hard times, joys of the toy variety can be few and far between and toy drives throughout the country try to provide kids with a little bit of playtime joy.

In Toronto, the Salvation Army and CTV Toronto’s annual Toy Mountain campaign has been a staple for 14 years and this year hopes to top 110,000 donated toys. Reaching the goal would mean filling an entire warehouse almost to the roof with toys and John Murray, spokesperson for the Salvation Army, says seeing last year’s finished mountain — the organization’s best-ever haul of more than 100,000 toys — was an amazing experience.

“It’s tremendously rewarding to be able to know you’re providing a sense of joy to kids — it’s incredible.” Murray said.

Similar toy drives are supported by the Salvation Army throughout the country and Murray says anyone can have a hand in making a child’s Christmas a happy one.

To help contribute toys or volunteer with the Salvation Army, visit www.salvationarmy.ca or call 1-800-SALARMY.

To help make a child’s wish come true with the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, visit www.catalogueofwishes.ca to view a virtual catalogue of wishes and help contribute things or help volunteer.

 
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