“For more than a quarter century, Olive Jeejeebhoy has helped bring Christmas toys to Toronto’s needy girls and boys.”
Jack Boland of The Toronto Sun did a story on the Scott Mission’s Christmas Toy Store, the one my mother, Olive Jeejeebhoy, has been organizing and growing for 28 years. She won an Ontario award a few years ago for her efforts, yet being recognized in a Toronto paper is a real coup!
Why does Mum slave hours in the toy warehouse, organizing used toys and donations, on a hot summer day in preparation to stock this Christmas Toy Store? Why has she gone around trying to rustle up new toys to supplement the (sometimes ratty — really amazing what people consider good enough for the poor) used toys during the fall? Why does she show up every day — now just mornings instead of all day — during the Toy Store hours? Why does she ensure every mother gets lots of books for each kid during this Christmas “shopping” time?
“‘MAKES THEM HAPPY’
“It makes them happy, especially newcomers to the country,” said Jeejeebhoy, a volunteer at the Mission for 28 years. “They are getting something for their children and that makes them happy.
“It gives them freedom, dignity and control when they have no control in their lives.”
The way it works is that the Scott Mission knows which mothers are too poor to buy Christmas gifts for their children, finds out how many and the ages and gender of the children, and then arranges the mothers to visit the Toy Store. If the children come with the mother, then they wait with a volunteer outside the Store so that their gifts will be a surprise on Christmas morning (or Eve). In the Store, a volunteer guides the mother around, with their list in hand. The Scott Mission fills out the list prior to the visit. Since there is a limited supply of new toys — holy cow, it was so difficult to get enough crayons for every child oftentimes! — the volunteer has to ensure that each mother gets the designated number and age- and gender-appropriate new toys for their children so that every child receives at least one new toy. They receive as many used toys and books as they like plus sporting goods and other special donations that may arise.
“When she first started volunteering, the Toy Room was just a counter at the Scott Mission, but over the years it has grown into a marvellous miniature Santa’s workshop.”
The need and ability to meet that need has grown to the point that the Toy Store is now open for more than a week. That’s thanks to Mum.
“Avril Henry, a Scott Mission spokesman, said anyone wishing to drop off donations can do so at their centre at 502 Spadina Ave., north of College St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.”