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Indigenous leaders at Maple Ridge high school holding toy drive

Rambo’s Toy Drive takes place Tuesday, Nov. 21 for those in need this holiday season
The MRSS choir sings during a drive-thru toy donation event last year. (Neil Corbett/The News)

New, unwrapped toys are being collected at Maple Ridge Secondary on Tuesday, Nov. 21, for those in need this holiday season.

Rambo’s Toy Drive has been taking place for the past decade at the school, where, starting at 7:45 a.m. members of the Circle of Indigenous Youth and Allies, (CIYA), will be collecting donations for local families – until 8:45 a.m., when the morning bell rings.

The toy drive will be in a drive-through format at the front of the school so people who wish to donate need only pull up.

In addition to toys, the group will also be collecting donations of new books, gift cards, and cash.

Karen Aitken, one of several adults involved with CIYA, said the leadership students organized everything, under the guidance of Sherri Britton.

“This (event) is incredibly special,” she said, noting the students have been preparing for it every day for the last two weeks.

“They have so much pride in what it does and what it brings (to the community),” she said of the drive.

Aitken noted the toy drive was started because of racism at the school, where Indigenous students would hear, “you guys get everything”, from non-Indigenous students, meaning handouts.

Leadership students wanted to dispel this narrative, they wanted to show the non-Indigenous students that their community is also giving, she said.

Potlatch, explained Aitken, is a gift giving ceremony, a traditional practice of gift giving that was banned in Canada when the Indian Act came into place – from 1885 to 1951.

For the students, the toy drive is like potlatch, she said.

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The school’s choir will also be singing carols during the event and the basketball team will be giving out free hot chocolate, provided by the CIYA students.

Rambo’s Toy Drive will take place at the front of the school at 21911 122 Ave., Maple Ridge.

For those who can’t make it donations will be accepted at the school library until Thursday, Dec. 5.

The following day leadership students at Eric Langton Elementary will head to MRSS to make sure there are batteries for all the toys that require them, and help to distribute.

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“The more community is involved, the more celebration it can bring,” said Aitken of the annual toy drive.

Donations will be distributed amongst the elementary school community. However, said Aitken, some students don’t choose a toy for themselves, they choose something they can give to an older brother or sister.

Aitken said last year the response from the community was overwhelming, noting it was wonderful to see such strong support from the community at large.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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