Despite pandemic, Welcome Hall Mission finds way to keep annual toy giveaway going
MONTREAL -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers behind a charitable Christmas tradition are determined to adapt and carry on this year.
The Welcome Hall Mission's Christmas toy giveaway will still benefit many families in need across the city, even if this year's edition will look a bit different.
“Normally it's one day. In this case, we're doing several days over a period of time,” said WHM CEO Sam Watts.
Plexiglas has been installed and clients are being given specific times to show up to ensure physical distance measures are respected. But despite the differences, the idea remains the same: helping parents put a smile on their kids' faces.
“Kids shouldn't be hungry, they shouldn't have to struggle with their families in order to make ends meet,” said Watts. “They really should be able to enjoy getting a toy at Christmas time.”
Thanks to donations, thousands of toys will be given out. But mission client Tadeo Vazquez, who came to Quebec from Mexico less than three years ago, said support goes beyond physical objects.
“(Welcome Hall) helped me find work and gave me information to find opportunities,” he said.
Volunteer Pierre Samson said helping out on this year's giveaway was an eye-opening experience.
“If you're not exposed to it, you don't realize how many people are in need of some support, some comfort,” he said. “You could see how they appreciate it. You could see the excitement and it gives me a great, great feeling.”
Watts said the number of clients the mission has seen has held steady during the pandemic, but there is a difference in who has been coming for help.
“People who worked in the hospitality sector or the gig economy. Those are two areas that have been profoundly impacted, so we're seeing people that we had never seen before,” he said.