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Paramedics, social workers fill ambulances with toys

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For the past twelve years, people in Timmins have been packing ambulances with gifts during the 'Fill an Ambulance Toy Drive.'

The endeavour is a team effort, involving paramedics, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board and North Eastern Ontario Family and Children's Services (NEOFACS).

Paramedics and social workers see firsthand the many children who go without at Christmas.

That's why they band together at this time of year to fill two ambulances with toys, personal care items, clothing and sporting goods and more.

For one day, they park one ambulance at Canadian Tire; and another at Walmart.

“I don’t think everybody sees how everybody’s living and what they get at Christmas time and throughout the year so... this program is great,” said Derrick Cremin, the local paramedic commander.

Last year, organizers achieved their goal – filling two ambulances – and collected over $4,000 in cash donations.

This year, they said the need is even greater due to the high cost of living and they expect to deliver gifts to more than 300 children, from infants all the way up to 18 years old.

“It’s such a hard time financially for everyone so families receiving gifts for their children helps tremendously," said Rachele Pelletier, the supervisor of prevention and volunteer services at NEOFACS.

People are also welcome to drop off unwrapped toys or cash donations at NEOFACS’ Timmins office on Ross Avenue East if they wish to contribute to the drive.

If people need any ideas of what to buy, organizers said they're always in short supply of baby items; as well as gifts for teens including board games, bedding and beauty products.

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