When the gift wrap is excitedly pulled off Christmas morning, and a rocking toy is revealed, little boys and girls may not realize it was made in a toy shop.
While many such toys come directly from Santa’s shop, others come from a woodworking room right here in Surrey’s Fraser Heights Secondary.
Usually, it’s elves who sand the wood or lovingly apply the paint, but this time, helpers from the community – students, parents and teachers alike – came together to make Christmas a little bit brighter for 50 local children this year.
It’s a tradition that marked its 13th year this Christmas.
The initiative was brought to life by Fraser Heights shop department head Marin Lim and wife Shelagh, a teacher at Cambridge Elementary.
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.
The work is done entirely by volunteers and all the materials are donated by local businesses.
The project began modestly enough in its first year, yielding 10 toys.
The next year they made 15, then 25, and this year, a total of 50 rocking toys were distributed to local children in need through the Surrey Christmas Bureau.
Lim estimates at least 200 man-hours went into making the 25 dinosaur and 25 airplane rocking toys in the shop this time around, which opened up from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for two weeks to make the magic happen.
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 said.
It’s not just students, teachers and parents who join the Lims but people from the community at large as well. And he stressed the students who participate volunteer their time; there’s no school requirement to contribute.
“I think it’s great everybody pitches in,” said Lim. “We’re all super beat up tired by the end. This year, when we dropped the toys off at the Surrey Christmas Bureau, we saw one going out the door. So it’s very rewarding in the end.”
Joanne Kotsiris has been helping for eight years.
She first got involved when her daughter, now in college, was a student at Fraser Heights. Now, her son attends 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 told the Now.
“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.”