Seven years ago, Kevin Kane was sitting in a parking lot listening to the 13 Days of Christmas on the radio when horrific stories about abused children started ringing in his ears.
From that moment, he felt something needed to be done to help them.
The following year, Kane, a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operator, started a toy drive to help those kids around the holidays. That toy drive became the Stuff-the-Bus campaign.
“This year we are at seven Wal-Marts,” Kane said. “There are seven different divisions within the TTC involved in this, so me and my colleagues get everything organized and send everything out to them.”
From Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, TTC buses were sent out to those seven locations to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys. Four of those locations were in Scarborough: Pharmacy Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East; Morningside Road and Milner Avenue; Markham Road and Steeles Avenue East; and Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East.
“We try to make (kids’) wishes come true for Christmas,” said Denise Spector, the director of programs at the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness. “Everybody talks about making a wish come true for a sick child. We make wishes come true for abused children.”
Over the years, Stuff-the-Bus has raised more than $150,000 in toys and has helped more than 3,000 families and 10,000 children.
Last year alone, 675 families and more than 3,000 children were helped, Kane said.
“Just for the Stuff-the-Bus weekend, we had a TTC bus loaded to the roof about three feet back from the windshield that we delivered on the Monday (Dec. 3, 2012) after Stuff-the-Bus,” Kane said.
This year, organizers are hoping to break the record by raising $200,000 in toys.