Montreal

Community toy drive fills 3 trucks with donations bound for Welcome Hall Mission

On Sunday, volunteers stacked plastic bags full of donations into three large trucks, all headed for the Welcome Hall Mission.

Residents in Saint-Leonard and beyond come together for annual holiday event

David Colasurdo started a toy and food drive at his café 11 years ago in the hopes his friends would show up. On Sunday, more than 100 people came by with donations of toys, food and clothes. (Franca Mignacca/CBC)

Each December, people come to the South Side Cafe in Saint-Leonard with bags of toys, clothing and food to donate to those in need.

"This is the biggest food drive anywhere in Montreal," said Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission.

"It just shows what kind of generosity Montrealers have for people in need, particularly this time of year," he said.

The event started just over a decade ago, as a community project organized by David Colasurdo.

"The original goal was to get a group of friends together and get items and food and toys for people that are a little bit more in need, less fortunate. And then through word of mouth, instead of having 20, 30 friends, it ended up being hundreds," Colasurdo explained.

Year after year, the charity drive collects heaps of toys, clothing and food to be given out to people who need it. (Franca Mignacca/CBC)

On Sunday, volunteers stacked plastic bags full of donations into three large trucks, all headed for the Welcome Hall Mission.

The South Side Cafe also hosted a holiday party for everyone who donated, offering free food, music and a festive atmosphere.

Colasurdo said local restaurants donated food and items for the drive, as did businesses in the district.

He said it's been amazing watching the event grow over the last 11 years.

"We're trying to encourage others to do the same as us, give back, do your own little drive. Together we can create a force," he said.

Marina Silipo and her daughter Bianca Silipo come to the annual charity event every year. (CBC)

Marina Silipo has been participating in the drive since the beginning. She said it's always nice to see the community get together to do some good.

"This is joy. This is the time you see everybody happy. You see someone else give, it doesn't matter what it is. ... You're giving a hand to someone else that is actually more in need than us."

Her daughter, Bianca Silipo, agrees.

"We're like one big family that gets together and really supports one another."

With files from Franca Mignacca

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