By Catherine O’Hara
Hamilton’s paramedics are delivering much more than health care this holiday season.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, local emergency services personnel are attempting to fill an ambulance with toys to boost City Kidz, a Hamilton not-for-profit organization. The event will be held at Waterdown’s Walmart, where community residents and shoppers can donate new, unwrapped toys.
Waterdown resident Craig McCleary, a supervisor with Hamilton’s emergency services, organizes the annual toy drive with the help of his co-workers Santo Pasqua, Doug Mason, Dave Donais and Daren Radtke.
Over the past eight years, the group has coordinated successful holiday drives at various Walmart locations across Hamilton. McCleary is hopeful Waterdown shoppers will be as generous as those from neighbouring communities.
“We want to fill it from the floor to ceiling, front to back,” said McCleary.
The ambulance, he explained, can hold anywhere between 400 and 500 toys. In addition to toys, the first-responders are also accepting cash donations.
Since its inception, the holiday toy drive has collected $12,000 for City Kidz, which uses the funds to purchase wrapping paper or more gifts for youth.
Helping collect cash and toy donations are the paramedics’ children, who volunteer their time at the event. “It’s nice for the kids to see where it’s going,” said McCleary, adding, “Not everybody gets to live in Waterdown.”
While all donations of new, unwrapped toys are welcome, items for youth between the ages of 10 and 13, as well as for young teens are most needed.
Residents and shoppers are encouraged to drop by Walmart located just east of Clappison’s Corners between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the ambulance will be there – will bells on.