Neepawa Natives and HOPE program collect toys


1-C-Toy-Drive-neepawa-NativesBy Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

Students at Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute, along with the Neepawa Natives are ensuring every child across the region has a very merry Christmas.

HOPE, the school’s global action group, comprised of just over a 100 local youth and the Junior “A” hockey club recently teamed up to collect hundreds of toys for the Neepawa Salvation Army Christmas hamper program. Coaches and players with the team delivered the gifts to the Salvation Army on Monday, Dec. 15.

Salvation Army community services representative Amanda Naughton-Gale said the generosity of the hockey club and the students connected to HOPE is simply remarkable.

“The Neepawa Natives have done the toy drive for a number of years now. Since I started (with the Salvation Army), there has always been a toy drive, so it is a long standing tradition to help out this time of year,” said Naughton-Gale. “Their support and the support of the students at NACI is greatly appreciated.”

Neepawa Natives director of marketing Kaiten Critchlow noted that the team is very proud to be connected to the endeavour. He added that the incredible fundraising efforts of the members of HOPE ensured that this would be the most successful year ever.

“Some of the kids at the local schools and connected to HOPE brought in the toys and then also, our fans at the games brought out toys and stuffed bears. This year, the support was really amazing. There is a lot of toys, a lot of gifts and things for kids during the Christmas season,” said Critchlow. “It’s something that the Neepawa Natives love to take part in, because it’s a really good way to give back to the community and to give back to the kids that are out supporting us at our games. During the Christmas season, it’s nice to be able to help out and this is one way that we can.”

Grade 12 student Morgan Graham has been a member of HOPE for four years and was one of the youth directly involved with the toy drive. She said it was very satisfying to see how much the school got behind the effort.

“It’s great to see just how much we were able to raise. We were able to bring in a lot of toys at the school and then when we partnered with (the Neepawa Natives), it just took off even more from there,” said Graham. “Too know that there are going to be families and children out there, who benefit from this project, it’s really satisfying. It makes it all worth while.”

Michelle Young of Neepawa Area Collegiate added that they very much appreciate the students, staff and community's support in helping make Christmas a little brighter for the children in Neepawa and area. 

The toys and food baskets assembled by the Salvation Army will be distributed within the next few days.