An Etobicoke NHL star is making Christmas brighter for kids in his hometown community.
Arms loaded with toys, six Toronto police officers from 22 Division station loaded two minivans to the brim with $2,200 worth of toys from Samko & Miko Toy Warehouse on Fima Crescent in the Horner and Kipling avenues area last Friday.
Officers played Santa and delivered the toys to LAMP Community Health Centre on Fifth Street in the Lakeshore, where families will make an appointment to choose toys for their children to open Christmas morning.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Const. Michael Burgess, 22 Division’s crime prevention officer.
A month ago, Dave Bolland called his dad Drew in Mimico to ask how his Dave Bolland Foundation could make a Christmas donation in the community where he grew up. The senior Bolland then called his friend Sgt. Russ Clark at 22 Division station.
Clark suggested LAMP. A call to Samko & Miko later, the Christmas gift giving die was cast. The player’s parents, Drew and Carol-Ann, presented officers with a $2,000 cheque from their son’s foundation. “I’m really proud of Dave,” his dad said. “When I was down talking with people at LAMP on Friday, I learned they helped 500 children last year. I have four boys, all grown up now. I can’t imagine them not waking up Christmas morning to a present.”
Bolland launched his foundation in Chicago two years ago after organizing two annual golf tournaments that each raised approximately $45,000 for LAMP-based Remix Project, which helps youth interested in working in a creative field or in furthering their formal education.
“I recognize the value and significance of mentorship, guidance and goal setting in a young person’s life; these are the keys to success. I want to help youth from less privileged backgrounds have the opportunity to be inspired and to pursue their dreams,” Dave Bolland states on his foundation website. Remix offers youth programs in graphic design, illustration, fashion design, videography, photography, writing, recording arts, business and film making.
Derek Jancar, a recording artist, co-founded Remix’s precursor Inner City Visions with a focus on hip hop music in 2000 with friend Gavin Sheppard, a manager of recording artists. In 2006, the pair expanded the focus and course offering and changed the program’s name to the Remix Project.
Bolland co-founded his foundation with his wife, Julia Zalucki, and Jancar, who is the foundation’s secretary and acting voluntary executive director after he saw the success of the golf tournaments, Jancar said.
“With Remix, it was tough to brand, to get that credibility,” said Jancar, childhood friends with Bolland. “It was a pleasure to have Dave lend his name, which gave Remix instant credibility and awareness. Dave and Julia always knew about LAMP and held their work in high regard.”
Last year, the Dave Bolland Foundation raised more than $250,000 for charity, Jancar reported, including the main charities: Remix (in Toronto and in Chicago), Easter Seals in Canada and the U.S. and Beyond the Ball, a Chicago-based grassroots organization that transforms neighbourhood streets into play spaces for basketball, soccer, volleyball and other sports every Friday night.
The week before Christmas, LAMP registered their clients from programs in primary health care, the early years, ASK! info centre and street level teens and tweens to participate in the toy room. LAMP staff dressed as elves to help parents shop for toys for their children. Toy room registrations are still coming in the week before Christmas. This is LAMP toy room’s fifth year of operation.
LAMP has never promoted the program. Instead, community donors approach LAMP with their toy donations. “We’ve never turned anyone away. The community has always been very generous,” said Therese Stewart, an administrative assistant with LAMP’s occupational health department who has overseen the toy room program for the past five years.
“Donors migrate to us because we’re trusted, because people know if they get the toys to us, we’ll get them to people who need them.” Stewart said she can relate to the difference the toys make to a child. “As a parent, I can’t imagine in January kids going back to school and being asked again and again, ‘what did you get for Christmas?’” she said.
“It’s very heartwarming to us to know that many more kids will have an answer to that question now.”