North Delta girls collect toys for sick kids

Emma Vanderlee (9) brought her friends Makayla Bennett (9) and Jennyka Cozzuol (10) are holding a toy drive at the Sundowner Pub Dec. 12.

This Christmas will be a little bit brighter for kids at BC Children’s Hospital thanks to a trio of enterprising North Delta girls.

After a visit to Surrey Memorial’s pediatric ward last month, Emma Vanderlee (9) brought her friends Makayla Bennett (9) and Jennyka Cozzuol (10) an idea: organize a toy drive to help cheer up kids that have to spend the holidays in the hospital.

“I want to make the holidays special for all the children who can’t be home for Christmas,” Emma said. “I want their Christmas Day to be extra special [and] we hope we can bring some smiles and joy to them Christmas morning.”

Jennyka’s mother brought the idea to her work, North Delta’s Sundowner Pub (11970 64 Ave), while the three girls got down to business, making flyers and putting the word out through social media.

“[It makes me] really, really happy that we can help make some kids have a very happy Christmas and not think about being sick for just a little while,” Jennyka said. “It’s important to me because I want all kids to have a happy Christmas, even if they have to be in the hospital.”

The girls decorated a box (pictured) where patrons at the Sundowner can drop off their donations, and it’s currently at the pub waiting to be filled. Emma’s mother Kelly said that Children’s Hospital is especially in need of toys for babies and teenagers, as most of the hospital’s toy donations aren’t suited for younger or older kids.

People can drop off donations whenever the pub is open, however the Sundowner is hosting a toy drive on Dec. 12 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to coincide with Monday night football, one of the bar’s busiest nights of the week. The donations will be delivered to Children’s Hospital on Dec. 15.

As for the girls, they’re just happy doing what they can to help spread a little holiday cheer where it’s needed most.

“It’s important because it’s hard to think about people in the hospital that can’t go home for Christmas,” Makayla said. “It makes me sad that kids can’t be home for Christmas but happy that I can help make things a little better [for them].”

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