Volunteers at the Toy Store in Port McNeill. (Submitted photo)

Volunteers at the Toy Store in Port McNeill. (Submitted photo)

Pop-up Port McNeill toy store helps families affected by loggers strike

Weekend of free toys typical of the way the community has rallied during difficult holiday

Holiday heartache and stress ended last weekend in a wave of pressure-releasing, volunteer-driven, heartfelt community Christmas spirit.

Port McNeill residents suffering through nearly six months of no work and no paycheque got a pick-me-up in the form of a wave of community straight out of a classic Christmas film.

North Islanders Laura Chase, Miranda Keys and Angela Williams — with the support of countless other volunteers — spent the past several weeks setting up a very special and free toy store.

“We just wanted to support our local families on the North Island who needed some extra help this Christmas,” she said. As a result, the Toy Store was born. “The response from the community has been incredible and overwhelming,” she said.

Chase explained how in just two weeks, the community jumped on board, donating thousands of dollars worth of toys.

Setting up shop in the Port McNeill MakersSpace, the Toy Store opened Dec. 14 and 15 for anyone to pick out the toys they need (at no cost) and even have them gift wrapped. There were baked goods available all day and on Sunday, Santa took time off from his busy schedule up at the North Pole to make a special visit to Port McNeill.

Chase and her volunteers were also aware that many felt uncomfortable accessing help. It was the first time for many and Laura and her team had spent a lot of time assuring and reassuring everyone that it was okay to accept the offer of friendship and help from the community.

The Toy Store was just one of many similar initiatives happening throughout the North Island this holiday season and everyone contacted for this story spoke of how it reminded them of why they are so happy to call this area home.

Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom, took a moment away from gift wrapping at the Toy Store to say: “What these ladies have done, along with the Loonies for Loggers women is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. They have created an atmosphere of caring like I haven’t seen in some time.

“It is more than toys and food. They are giving their hearts and offering much needed moral support during a very difficult time for the North Island.”

– Bill McQuarrie article


The Toy Store located in Port McNeill. (Submitted photo)

The Toy Store located in Port McNeill. (Submitted photo)