Toy drive picks up speed

Christmas is a time to be merry. Families come together around the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree, while children can barely contain themselves at the thought of unwrapping their Christmas gifts.

However, due to economic circumstances, this Christmas season will be somewhat less merry for many families in Cayman. There has been a significant increase in the number of families in need of some form of assistance.

For many children, this could mean a Christmas without any gifts under the tree.

Fortunately, the annual Christmas Toy Drive, organised by Woods Furniture & Design, the Caymanian Compass and Rooster 101 and Z99 will be aiming to bring a couple of smiles to the faces of those less fortunate.

According to Kristen Thomson of Woods Furniture & Design, the toy drive has been going on for five years and has been gaining strength every year.

“It started due to an interest in helping those less fortunate, especially during the holiday season,” she says.

With the economic downturn definitely hurting Cayman this festive season, Thomson hopes that the trend of ever increasing donations every year can be continued.

“This year we have discovered that there are more people than ever in need in the Cayman Islands. We are inviting people to donate what they can – gifts, cash, even non-perishable food items,” says Thomson.

One of the often overlooked items that can be donated is hurricane food supplies. With 2009 delivering an unusually quiet hurricane season, many people have non perishable food items which may not keep through next hurricane season.

“Instead of eating it or throwing it away, why not donate it to someone who really needs it,” says Thomson.

When it comes to donating gifts, the drive accepts new, unwrapped gifts for all ages.

“And don’t forget the teenagers – most people just think about the young children,” adds Thomson.

According to Deanna Look Loy, director of the Department of Children and Family Services, the importance of the toy drive cannot be overestimated.

“A donation such as this is very important as it assists the Department in its attempt to insure that children who are identified as needy are able to enjoy and partake in the Christmas season.”

According to Brian Uzzell, publisher and managing director of Cayman Free Press, the company is very serious about its community involvement.

“Especially around this time of year, it is important to contribute in any way we can to help those less fortunate,” he says.

The toy drive lasts from 1 to 18 December, with the toys going to help families on all three islands.

The donations can be dropped off at Cayman Free Press, Woods Furniture & Design and at the Z99 offices in Grand Harbour.

As an added incentive, every eligible donation receives a 15 per cent discount voucher from Woods Furniture & Design.