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'Everyone deserves something under the tree': London Jr. Mustangs Hockey host toy drive

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One by one, London Jr. Mustangs’ hockey players dropped off presents for those in need this holiday season.

“Everyone deserves to have something under the tree and enjoy Christmas,” said Santino Castellani, 12, a minor hockey player. “I feel like it will help a lot of kids that aren't as fortunate as we are and they'll be happy.”

The toy and food drive at Thompson Arena was in conjunction with the Salvation Army. The event was part of Jr. Mustangs’ day at Western University.

“Our family decided that this year, we would donate some time and help out some other families in need,” said Kelly Castellani, a hockey mom and toy drive organizer. “We're very fortunate in our family that we have the ability to give our kids toys. I can't imagine those families that can't offer that for their kids.”

With the need greater than ever at both the London Food Bank and Salvation Army, the organization decided to forgo its team Christmas parties, and help others instead.

“We have 16 teams from made up of players from all over London,” said Rich Duench, a coach and committee member with the London Jr. Mustangs.

He added, “They are all playing here today and we feel it’s important for players to realize how fortunate they are playing a sport. It’s Canada’s game, however, the cost keeps going up. These kids are very fortunate to do that, and we wanted to give to those less fortunate.”

Organizers say the Salvation Army donated over 6,500 toys to families in need last year, and they hope to help reach higher numbers with this initiative.

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