By Gerald V. Paul
More than 450 children from the west end were in a sharing-caring mood, thanks to the Advocates for Etobicoke Youth (AFEY) and their 10th annual children’s Christmas Party at Woodbine Banquet Hall.
The excited children, ranging from four to12 years, had a parent or guardian accompany them to the recent spectacular affair and were fed a sumptuous meal prepared by the banquet hall.
“To me these people (the organizers) are heroes because as parents we cannot simply afford gifts for our three kids,” one mother enthused. “Yes, the three hampers and toys they are receiving will make a big difference this holiday season. And just to be here in such a magnificent place, is wonderful.”
Each child received a gift-wrapped toy from Santa Claus and was entertained by magicians, clowns and music and dancing. Then they were presented with food hampers.
The party is the brainchild of prominent Toronto lawyer Dhaman Kissoon and Supt. Ron Taverner of Toronto Police Service 23 Division.
“It has grown beyond our wildest expectations,” Kissoon said. “When we first started, there were only 100 children in attendance. This event is now like a well-oiled machine with about 1,000 people in attendance.”
He said the children are decked in their Sunday best and are bused to the banquet hall and back to the pickup point.
AFEY is now partnering with Toronto Police Service and the Armstrong Group of companies. They have also received assistance from the Rotary Club of Brampton, Flower City Centennial and many other local businesses such as Giant Tiger and Woodbine Banquet Hall.
As to why they continue to host this event? Both Kissoon and Taverner stated that they are simply trying to make a difference in the lives of these children.
“The children are from one of the neediest areas of Toronto and many of them would not otherwise receive a toy or present at this special time of caring and sharing,” Taverner said.