Calgarians braved the bitter cold weather on Sunday afternoon to help deliver thousands of toys to needy children in memory of Sgt. Andrew Harnett.
The toy drive was the second held in honour of the Calgary Police officer who was killed during a traffic stop in 2020.
KidsPlay Foundation, alongside partner organizations including the Calgary Police Service, CIR Reality, the Salvation Army, and 95.9 STAR, collected the toys at the memorial hockey rink that bears Sgt. Harnett’s name.
“He had a very major impact on the community and a big part of his role as a sergeant in this very district was community involvement, so it’s only fitting for his legacy and his memory,” said Tej Singh, volunteer organizer with KidsPlay.
“We’re super proud of our volunteers today—it’s it’s absolutely frigid outside, so standing out there for hours on end, collecting toys, packaging them—it’s a success and it’s really fun every year.”
The goal was to collect 2,512 toys, up from the nearly 1,300 collected in 2021. The toys will be distributed as part of the Salvation Army’s Toy Angels campaign, which runs in Calgary until Dec. 18.
Singh said that volunteers were able to fill more than a dozen tables full of toys, and while the final count is not yet complete, he said they came close to or surpassed that number.
“If we reached it, we’re going to aim higher next year. And if we didn’t reach that, it’s just motivation for us to keep going for more awareness and reach that goal next year,” Singh said.
Creating positive impacts for those in need
Singh said that the real goal was to ensure that KidsPlay was able to provide create positive impact and touch the lives of Calgarians in need this holiday season.
“We want to make sure that it touches the lives of not just one, but many people, and so the goal and the mindset is to reach out to as many people as we can to help out as many people as we can,” he said.
He said that is part of the overall community building that has gone on, and needs to continue to go on to improve the lives of those in need. That’s the legacy of doing something in Sgt. Harnett’s name.
“We can’t just always lean on our first responders to be the persons responsible to serve the community—so yes, it feels good to raise toys for the kids who are unfortunate, who can’t receive toys on their own.” Singh said.
“We’re just doing our part in the community just how every first responder, every police officer and firefighter, every paramedic, every nurse doctor, every security guard, every single person that goes ‘I’m thankful,’ we’re stepping up and doing our part for our community as well.”