A storage box full of toys: Jansen's Christmas Toy Drive works hard to bring gifts to kids
LONDON, ONT. -- Despite COVID-19 struggles, the Jansen Family is working hard to bring toys to the less-fortunate so that ‘every kid can have a great Christmas.’
“Our son Jacob came up with the idea when he was six years old to help other children in the community,” says Meaghan Jansen.
The Jansen family, mom Meaghan, dad Garth, 10-year-old Olivia and 12-year-old Jacob are celebrating their sixth year of the Christmas Toy Drive, where they collect gently used and new toys to be delivered to associations and shelters across London.
“I was in my bedroom and I had a bunch of toys in my box I didn’t need…it feels good to give because you’re helping other people,” says Jacob.
The Jansens say they were afraid the drive would be cancelled due to COVID-19. But the community stepped up to support the cause.
Instead of having people congregate in the house to help pack donated toys, the workshop is now located in a Storage Box parked in the middle of the family’s driveway, to reduce the risks surrounding COVID-19.
“We were given this great 16 by eight foot storage bin, donated by Storage Box which is our main drop zone. And then we bag the items and give them to families,” says Meaghan.
McDonalds London provided Happy Meal certificates, and Copp's Buildall donated the plastic bags.
Bennett Rentals is providing the family a truck to help with the delivery, and Go Fog It, a disinfectant company visits the storage container twice a week to sanitize the items free of charge.
“It’s quite amazing the community support and where all the toys are coming from, from people we don’t even know,” says Garth.
Each child will receive a variety of items in their Santa bag including a stuffed animal, board game/puzzle, book and toy. The bags are coordinated by age and gender.
Experts Olivia and Jacob help decide which toys go where based on their own preferences.
“It feels good to help other people who don’t have toys…I think girls would like this stuff and this Dork Diaries book,” says Olivia.
In two short weeks the family collected approximately 504 toys with the help of friends, family and the community. They also aligned with two organizations who helped make the donations possible - London's Basket Brigade and the St. George Catholic Church.
They’ve also been supported by various schools.
But the family has not yet met their goal and they are asking for more donations to meet the needs of the community.
“We have 800 children on our list…from various associations,” says Meaghan.
Along with the fun stuff, the family is creating ‘Blessing Bags’ filled with hygiene items for those who may not have access. Inside the bags will be masks and sanitizer bottles, among other items.
Over five years the toy drive has supported over 2,500 children and they hope that number will grow drastically this year.
If you would like to donate, you can visit this page for information. Donations are accepted until Sunday, Dec. 6.
The items will be donated to shelters and associations across the community the week of Dec. 14.