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Annual toy giveaway provides Christmas joy to Montreal families

A young girl holds a gift given by the Welcome Hall Mission at the non-profit's annual Christmas toy giveaway. (Olivia O'Malley/CTV News) A young girl holds a gift given by the Welcome Hall Mission at the non-profit's annual Christmas toy giveaway. (Olivia O'Malley/CTV News)
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The Welcome Hall Mission in Montreal is hosting its annual toy giveaway for vulnerable children and families this weekend, and the non-profit says 2023 is its biggest edition yet.

Seven-year-old Ysaiah Villaceran took part and plans on wasting no time putting the pieces of his LEGO Minecraft set together.

"Go home and build it right now," he said.

The non-profit located in the St. Henri neighbourhood is giving away around 7,500 gifts to about 1,900 children in need.

"This is the biggest one we've ever done," said CEO Sam Watts.

The event is for children and their families who are members of the mission's free grocery store or its program helping single mothers.

Children get to choose a brand new toy bought by the organization, in addition to meeting Santa.

The gift from the mission is likely the only present most of the children will get this year, as many families say they struggle to make ends meet with the high cost of living.

"It really helps me a lot because during Christmas," said Junel Villaceran.

"You will not have to think anymore because the kids will have to choose their toys."

Watts said it's not just about the toys. This year's team is "a whimsical odessy," and kids are given a train ticket to go on a journey through a bazaar with arts and crafts and follow the train tracks to a winter wonderland.

"In many cases, the experience of poverty removes joy, removes choice, and so we want this day to be about joy and choice," said Watts.

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