SURREY — The materials have been ordered and prepped and next Monday, the woodworking room at Fraser Heights Secondary will turn into a toy shop, as it does every year.
“I’ve spent the last two weeks getting organized,” explained teacher Chris Mills. “We start officially on Monday.”
Usually, it’s elves who sand the wood or lovingly apply the paint, but in Fraser Heights, helpers from the community – students, parents and teachers alike – come together to make Christmas a little bit brighter for local children every year.
It’s year 15 for the “Toys for Tots” program that involves handcrafting wooden rocking toys for the Surrey Christmas Bureau.
The team is building airplanes, dinosaurs and moose this time around, and the goal is to turn out 60 toys, explained Mills.
The Christmas construction site is in need of volunteers to help cut out, sand, paint and assembles these toys.
“Come for an hour or longer and help make terrific presents for Surrey kids,” organizers say.
The work is done entirely by volunteers and all the materials are donated by local businesses.
The initiative was launched by Martin Lim, who led the Fraser Heights shop, and his wife Shelagh, a Surrey school teacher.
The idea for the project was inspired during a trip to Tijuana to build a home for a family there.
“Coming back here, we thought we should do something for people here at home,” said Lim.
But why rocking toys?
Lim had plans to make his daughter a rocking toy 25 or 30 years ago but never got around to it.
“We never got a chance to make it, so now we make it for other children,” he told the Now-Leader in 2015.
Joanne Kotsiris has been helping for almost a decade.
Interviewed in 2015, Kotsiris said she first got involved when her daughter was a student at Fraser Heights. Then, her son attended the school and she plans to continue on the tradition as long as she’s able.
“It just puts you in the spirit for Christmas, I really enjoy it,” Kotsiris remarked. “It’s just two weeks, a few hours after school…. We’re making these toys from scratch for kids that really need toys at Christmas time. It’s just such a good cause.”
This year, the toy-making will be in action from 3 to 6 p.m. from Monday, Nov. 27 through to the 30th, as well as Dec. 4 to 7.
To get involved, call Martin or Chris at 604-587-4812 or Shelagh at 604-583-5419.
Organizers thank BC Fasteners, Country Lumber, General Paint, Strawberry Hill’s Home Depot and Raider-Hansen for donating materials.