The firemen at the Lake Cowichan Fire Department have big hearts.
But this isn’t news anymore. The LCFD has been operating their annual Christmas food and toy drive for five years now. The toy drive’s proceeds go towards Cowichan Lake Community Services’ annual Christmas hamper.
Fireman Steve Johnson conceived the Lake Cowichan version of the toy drive five years ago and since, the fundraiser has become a premier holiday event in Lake Cowichan.
“There is a need in the community for something like this. As a fire department that’s what we do. That’s what firemen do. We enjoy doing it and it’s part of being a fireman,” said Johnson.
Johnson said each year the LCFD brings in between $1,500-$2,000 in cash donations each year, with a similar amount being accumulated for food and toys. Due to the fun nature of the event, Johnson said it’s never difficult getting the fire department riled up for the toy drive.
“We never have a problem having people turn out for stuff like this that involves kids. We volunteer for stuff like this and help out when we can,” added Johnson.
Johnson’s favorite part of the toy drive is witnessing grins spread across the kids’ faces.
“I just enjoy showing up at the hall with everyone there and giving the stuff out. There are big smiles on peoples’ faces,” he said.
Lieutenant Raymond Bourassa is another LCFD fireman who thinks the toy drive is an extremely worthwhile initiative. Bourassa said the LCFD decided to get involved after the Christmas hamper came up short a few times in years past.
“It feels good, especially when you have people from Community Services show up to our annual dinner party. They thank us and they have had tears in their eyes and are just speechless and thanking us for it.” said Bourassa.
Although the toy drive is geared for children 0-18 years of age, Bourassa stressed the need for more toys for middle-aged and teenage children since there is always an over-abundance of infant toys.
“It’s not always just about the younger kids. There’s also teenagers out there that don’t get much for Christmas. It goes a long way because sometimes they’re left out since there’s so much for the younger kids and nothing for the older ones,” added Bourassa.
Bourassa suggested board games or a deck of cards for children in the older age bracket.
For every toy brought the LCFD has pledged to provide a hot dog, which they will be barbecuing throughout both of the toy drive dates.
The toy drive is Dec. 9 at 5-8 p.m. and on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.-5p.m. at the Lake Cowichan Country Grocer.