More than 3,000 gift bags have been purchased and handed out to children in northern Manitoba.
The gift bags include one orange, two Werther’s Originals, one chocolate, two pieces of gum, a candy cane and a note to let the recipients know they’re being thought of.
Falling short of their $50,000 fundraising goal thus far, the gift bags are a means of getting something up to them, key organizer Christopher Henry said.
"That was more important than giving them nothing, with the hope that we can get something else up to them after Christmas," he said, adding that all of the gift bags reached children in time for Christmas.
The ultimate goal is to give each of these children a gift, purchased from a Manitoba toy store, as approximately 850 children already have.
These include approximately 400 children in Red Sucker Lake and 450 children in Wasagamack, all under the age of 10.
Approximately 1,050 children in Garden Hill and 1,100 children in St. Teresa Point received just the gift bags thus far.
Henry said that donations are still coming in, with a few thousand dollars collected since they counted a total of $14,900 just before Christmas.
"We’re going to continue to push and see what we can do before New Year’s, and the drive continues," he said. "If I continue to get donations after the first of January, we’re going to continue to ship presents up there."
The province-wide toy drive builds off an effort at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, where soldiers collected gifts for northern children earlier this month.
As reported last week, an initial group of 40 military members from the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry have been deployed to Shamattawa First Nation, where they will help establish an alternative isolation area in a local school in order to help keep an outbreak of COVID-19 at bay.
Henry, who co-founded Winnipeg-based health-care business IcMD, caught wind of the effort and linked up with Canadian Forces officials to see what they could do to help.
Some gifts and gift bags were shipped north via the Canadian Forces, while others were shipped free of charge by Perimeter Aviation.
Given that planning didn’t begin until six days before Christmas, Henry said he’s impressed they were able to raise so much so quickly, albeit shy of their goal.
Donations can still be made online at icmd.ca.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB