RCAF helps RCMP deliver toys to northern kids

News Article / December 12, 2019

By Captain Graeme Scott

We all need help from time to time—and that includes Santa Claus.

On Friday, December 6, 2019, members of 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, took to the skies to transport more than 11,000 pounds of toys from Trenton to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, as part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s annual “Toys for the North” program.

Every year since 2010, thousands of toys have been collected by members of the RCMP, Thomson Terminals, and the Toy Council of Canada in hopes that as many children as possible in Canada’s Northern communities have a present to open at Christmas.

The program begins each year in the early summer, with toys being donated by corporate sponsors through the Canadian Toys Association. The RCMP then collects the toys and volunteers sort and package them at Toronto-based warehouse and shipping company Thompson Terminals in early December.

Once prepared, the toys are loaded onto a tractor-trailer and delivered to 8 Wing.  

While 8 Wing doesn’t have any reindeer, it has the next best thing: its very own workhorses—a pair of CC-130J Hercules transport aircraft. As part of a training flight in the early morning hours of December 6, members of 436 Transport Squadron and 426 Transport Training Squadron prepared for departure to RCMP hubs in Thunder Bay and Happy-Valley Goose Bay (respectively).

Within minutes of landing in Labrador, 5 Wing Goose Bay and the RCMP personnel were hard at work unloading toys from the Hercules.  

Corporal Robert Buller from the RCMP ‘O’ Division, the 2019 national coordinator of Toys for the North, was on hand to oversee the shipment of toys to the wing and ensure everything went smoothly.

“The RCMP is in a unique position in that, because we are a National police service, we have employees and partners across the entire country,” he said. “With the exception of police work, I can't think of a better way to leverage those connections than to coordinate a campaign that delivers toys to children who otherwise would not be recipients simply because of where they live. We cannot say thank you enough to our partners and countless volunteers that make this all possible.”

After the delivery, RCMP personnel and volunteers spent a few days sorting and wrapping the gifts. The RCMP then deliver the toys via a DHC6 Twin Otter aircraft, snowmobiles and whatever was needed to get them to the communities located on the north shore of the Labrador coast.

The second Hercules arrived in Thunder Bay that same day where the toys went through a similar sorting and delivery process.

"Obviously this time of year it's a great thing to be a part of, especially as a member of the military to take part in something like this that's supporting Canadians," the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Captain Kevin Sawyers told CBC News in Thunder Bay. “Being able to come and transport toys to kids is absolutely something we're proud to take part in.”


 

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