“For the past two years, my kids never woke up to presents.” It’s a terrible memory of holidays past. Grace, pauses, looks down, and then continues, “I was on welfare and I had a drug addiction.“ She is 36 years old with 9 children ranging from the ages of 19 and 2 years old. She’s also pregnant. “I’m on my tenth, I know, I know it’s a little bit much. I know everybody will be judgmental of my situation. So many kids, (I’m) so young, and (I’m) single.

Grace is one of countless families who visited The Mustard Seed’s Family Gift Centre. Recognizing the need for help was even more this year, The Mustard Seed decided to make it easier for families who might otherwise not have a gift for their children.

Toys began arriving on a daily basis. People dropped off Barbies, toy trucks and games. And then one day a push attracted a major corporate sponsor. Mastermind Toys, owner, Karyn Levy, says the project struck at her heart,

“It resonated to me as a hand up. When you can make a difference in one person’s life it’s magical.”

Deliveries from Mastermind started to come in. Thump was the sound of all the boxes as they were loaded into The Mustard Seed truck. Inside were crafts, stuffies, loot bags, all sorts of toys to make a child smile.

Other businesses were eager to help too. Peavey Mart and 7M, a family owned landscaping business. Mae Kapler was happy to help, “We wanted to give back to our community. Christmas is the time of year for sharing and we really wanted to share.”

It was an incredible show of support. More than 10,000 dollars in donations of cash and toys combined. 770 toys were handed out! Parents contributed a toonie per gift and left with a restored sense of dignity. Money raised was donated back to charity.

Katrina, Grace’s friend and the mother of a 5 year old, left smiling. As a full time student, she admits, day to day is tough. “I’m a student and I have limited funds, I come from a really big family and it’s hard to get everyone a gift. This is a huge thing for me. My son is able to wake up to presents.”

Grace agreed. Her happiness was infectious. When she left, she put down an armful of presents to give a hug. She paused and with tears in her eyes she whispered,

“I’m overwhelmed. Thank you!”