Christmas Toy Drive overwhelms as community donates en masse

The third annual Bega District News Toy Drive has once again exceeded all expectations, further demonstrating the incredible generosity of our community.

An estimated $6-7000 worth of toys, gifts and sports equipment has been donated to the appeal, with the pile under the BDN office Christmas tree spilling beyond the level of last year’s effort.

In coming days, Bega’s Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Anglicare will be distributing the gifts to children and families on their client list, who may otherwise have gone without presents this Christmas.

A selection of suitable toys and games from those donated has also been given to the children’s ward at the South East Regional Hospital.

BDN sales representative Gary Etcell proposed the idea of a Christmas Toy Drive in 2014 as a way to give back to the community and as a show of support for our region’s disadvantaged.

Now in its third year, the appeal continues to move him and others in the BDN office.

Examples of community members who have donated include one woman and her family who almost doubled the collection overnight – including several bikes and a full size trampoline! – while one young boy dropping in a toy said he had used some of his birthday money to purchase a Christmas present for someone he didn’t even know.

“Each year I’m totally overwhelmed at the generosity of a lot of businesses and community support,” Mr Etcell said.

The Bega District News sincerely thanks Bega Lions, Bega Rotary and the Sapphire Coast Ulysses Motorcycle Club for their assistance in spreading the good word again this year.

Members of the Lions and Rotary Clubs hit the streets to speak with local businesses and collect their offerings, while the bikers organised last weekend’s Sapphire Coast Toy Run that collected donations from Bermagui to Pambula!

Appeals like this would not be possible without the gracious support of these local volunteer and community organisations.

A separate collection taken by the Merimbula News Weekly was also a resounding success, with donations heading to the local Vinnies and Salvos there as well.

Preparing to distribute presents collected in the BDN Christmas Toy Drive are BDN editor Ben Smyth, Salvation Army lieutenant Rod Parsons, Anglicare's Vesna Andric, BDN sales rep Gary Etcell, Bega Lions president Phil Benny and Salvos helper Laurie Brett.

Preparing to distribute presents collected in the BDN Christmas Toy Drive are BDN editor Ben Smyth, Salvation Army lieutenant Rod Parsons, Anglicare's Vesna Andric, BDN sales rep Gary Etcell, Bega Lions president Phil Benny and Salvos helper Laurie Brett.