Todd Woitas (left) and McRae Berturelli stand with some of the donated toys during their toy run at Blackjacks Roadhouse & Games Room just outside of Edmonton. Tyler Grant photo.

Alberta truckers send truck-load of toys

Locals also encouraged to donate to help families in need this Christmas

A group of Albertan truckers are doing their part to make children happy after the tough wildfire season faced by the Cariboo.

Alberta Large Cars, a group of professional truckers, banded together for their third annual toy drive.

This year’s toys will be coming to the South Cariboo.

“You guys got hit pretty hard this year so we thought we’d bring them to you,” says Todd Woitas, who spearheaded the initiative.

Last year the toys went to Fort McMurray and the year before that to Santas Anonymous, a charity in Edmonton that delivers toys to needy families.

“We’re just a friendly brotherhood of truck drivers that get together every couple of months,” says Woitas.

On Sept. 30, the group got together at Blackjacks Roadhouse & Games Room for the Alberta Large Car Toy Run, where truckers from around the province got together, bringing toys and sometimes cash to donate.

Last year, the group received a donation of toys from Craig Lebeau of Lebeau Bros logging out of Kamloops and thought they would pay it forward this year.

The group will be sending down the toys on a pallet, which Greyhound is helping to transport, hopefully in time for the Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 17.

The donations are also personal for Woitas.

“Years ago, when I was a kid, the parents split up, and I had a single mom, she was doing it alone, she worked three jobs to support three kids and one day we woke up and there were presents from Santas Anonymous under the tree and it was just so nice.”

This year, following the parade, the toys will be donated to the 100 Mile House Food Bank, says Marnie Erickson, the owner-operator of the local Greyhound, who is coordinating the donations in 100 Mile House.

The toys will go into the Christmas hampers, which the food bank expects to see an increase in demand for this year. As it stands currently, Erickson says the food bank is out of toys.

Erickson is also calling on locals to donate, to help fill the trailer she’ll be pulling in the Santa Claus Parade.

She reminds people that toys and gifts for older children and teenagers are especially in demand.

Donations from Alberta Large Cars as well as from other Greyhound agents around B.C. combined with local support, Erickson hopes the food bank won’t have to purchase toys this year.

Donations are being accepted at the Greyhound Bus Depot in 100 Mile House until Nov. 10.

She’s also invited Woitas to ride with her in the parade.

“A humungus shout-out to the people for doing what they are doing. I can’t even believe they would consider our little town,” says Erickson.

For Woitas, it’s simple.

“I benefitted when I was a kid and I thought if we could do a little good then why not?” he says. “If we can get together and show that we’ve got a big heart, why not?”

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