It was a moment of magic. In fact there were hundreds of moments of magic this week as literally thousands of people have stepped outside themselves to extend a hand of friendship to someone else.
It’s the trikes for tykes that sort of says it all…
But, let’s go back to the beginning:
Six years ago a group of Georgian College students were thinking about what they could do for people with less. With the encouragement of the connecting link at the college, Sue Barker, they brainstormed. One idea after another hit the whiteboard as they discussed possibilities. Then they each listed the one item that had mattered most in their lives… their bike!
Freedom, independence, the power of propelling oneself forward & backward & sideways… yes, indeed, it was the bike, or er, trike! Could they provide trikes for kids? The marketing students got involved and developed the ‘buzz’ that becomes the ‘sizzle’ and Georgian College’s Trikes for Tykes program was born.
Students began by collecting Canadian Tire money. They used the money to buy a trike. Once it was assembled and they had collected more of the bills, they bought and assembled another trike. Slowly, surely they kept up their plan and that year they budgeted to donate five trikes to Christmas Cheer. They achieved 30 in all.
Each year they budgeted for more. And each year, as the program caught on, Georgian students, staff and faculty jumped on board to boost the Trikes for Tykes program. On Wednesday afternoon, students and staff loaded 180 trikes onto two trucks and delivered them to Christmas Cheer. Along with 180 trikes were the odd scooter, and wooden high chairs and cradles made by the carpentry department. Each trike had a pair of mittens tied to the handles.
Zzachary Neilson, age 4, actually rode several trikes out to the trucks. He had personally saved enough money to fund four of the trikes himself.
Sue Barker explains that while some of the trikes are purchased with Canadian Tire money, many more are just purchased and brought in by staff, students and faculty. Little ride-em toys for the younger set are now add-ons for the Georgian folks.
The whole college is proud of what the united approach provides for some of the 3,352 people who will be receiving a Christmas Cheer hamper.
And speaking of miracles… Wednesday afternoon a plea went out through local media that Christmas Cheer needed three bikes, two for boys and one for a girl. Just hours later, an entire minor peewee hockey team showed up. The 11 year olds of the Barrie Minor Hockey League’s PeeWee AE (mini Colts) team proudly carried three bikes into the Event Centre as well as other toys they’d chosen for children just like them!
Miracles have been happening all week at The Event Centre as the elves at Christmas Cheer have been hustling to provide Christmas for 1,250 families. In the midst of organized chaos, the miracles appear. The team of people who bagged apples and oranges were literally boxed in as the box builders piled boxes as high as possible.
A forklift made its way along an aisle and dropped a load of cardboard boxes in the toy area. Unmarked boxes. We opened them and inside were remarkable kits for art. Fingerpainting, art pads, markers, paint, crayons, scissors, all shrinkwrapped into a package and tied with a ribbon. Employees at Baywood Paper had purchased and assembled 250 of these kits. They turn into beautiful gifts for Christmas Cheer children.
Pearl Johnston quietly made her way into the toy area, a plain cardboard box under her arm. She lifted the lid and there were 50 pair of hand-knit mittens, little mittens and bigger mittens, all made with love. Pearl takes two weeks off after Christmas and then begins again, a pair a week for Cheer kids.
Hazel Morozuk put her needles to work making beautiful toques. Another knitter brought in 39 hand made sweaters.
A salesman dropped by with a Sears card loaded with $450 which was used to purchase more mittens, toques and scarves for kids. An Innisfil resident arrived after a $600 shopping spree at a department store. On and on and on… it’s overwhelming to be on the receiving line of such goodness, even if we are caretakers briefly of the funds.
Christmas Cheer is just one of the many local efforts to care for people in need during this season of love, peace, and goodwill. The folks at the Salvation Army are gearing up to add two Christmas Dinner sittings on Christmas Day. The Salvation Army puts on a special push at Christmas but the Army feeds 300 people every single day of the year.
Children’s Aid is gathering up gifts for its client families. All across the region businesses have been adopting families and caring for them by providing a total Christmas.
There is so much opportunity for so much need. The numbers for Christmas Cheer reflect our growing urbanization. When Christmas Cheer held its first effort 29 years ago, 35 families arrived to receive food and gifts. December 22 saw 1,250 families receive a week’s supply of food, Christmas dinner, a turkey and gifts for every child. That translates to 3,353 people… a huge need for our area.
Need meets its match in the generosity of Barrie, Innisfil, Essa and south Oro residents. Care is translated into miracles.
For every single effort, no matter how small or how large… thank you! Peace on earth. Good will t’wards others. That’s what it’s all about.