Crazy Indians Brotherhood bottle drive turns into $9,000 worth of Christmas gifts for kids

About 85 to 100 Yellowknife families were able to select free toys for their kids this year, thanks to a generous community group. "I got to thank Yellowknife itself," says organizer Michael Fatt.

About 85 to 100 families picked up toys at the 2nd annual Crazy Indians Brotherhood toy drive

More than $9,000 worth of Christmas gifts were handed out to Yellowknife families during the second Crazy Indians Brotherhood toy giveaway held on Dec. 14 at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Kara Koyina Richardson left the Crazy Indians Brotherhood's toy drive with Christmas gifts for both her kids and a big smile on her face.

She said her daughter had asked for a basketball hoop for Christmas and Richardson was able to get it for her at the toy drive. And she also got a game for her son to play on his PlayStation.

"I can never afford these," she said.

"It's tough living off $1,800 a month, but thanks to the community and crazy Indians and Sally-Ann, my kids are going to have a great Christmas."

The toys Richardson picked up were part of more than $9,000 worth of Christmas gifts the Crazy Indians Brotherhood was able to distribute to about 85 to 100 Yellowknife families at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre during its second annual toy drive on Dec. 14.

Bottle drive

The brotherhood raised the money by collecting bottles for recycling. 

Michael Fatt, president of the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, said he put the word out about the bottle drive on his Facebook page and in the group Salvagers Unite and got a response that was beyond what he or anyone else in the brotherhood expected.

"We were overwhelmed," he said. "I got to thank Yellowknife itself."

Michael Fatt, president of the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, said the organization was overwhelmed with the amount of donated bottles it received as part of their drive to raise funds to buy Christmas gifts. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

It took days for Fatt and others to sort through it all. In the end, the bottle drive, combined with some cash donations, netted the brotherhood more than $9,000, which it used to buy toys from a wholesaler in Edmonton.

A member of the brotherhood and his friend went to Edmonton to pick up the toys and bring them to Yellowknife.

"It looks to me like there are about 300, 400," said Fatt on the morning of the event, "and they're quality toys, top of the line."

'That little smile'

Fatt said he knows from personal experience what it's like not to get a toy at Christmas.

"I went through some rough Christmases and, you know, I had socks and underwear, and that was it. And I wish I had the toy, right?" said the survivor of the 60s scoop.

He added he and most of the members of the brotherhood come from "hard backgrounds, some troubled pasts."

Members of the the Crazy Indians Brotherhood at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre where it distributed more than $9,000 worth of Christmas gifts to Yellowknife families. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

And they know that some people in Yellowknife are struggling to make ends meet.

"[They] don't really have a chance to actually buy what the child wants," he said. "So these are some, you know, extravagant gifts compared to the ones that they might have otherwise."

"Just knowing that, you know, there's going to be kids that … have that little smile."

Fatt said he had hoped to distribute some of the toys to smaller communities in the territory but they were all taken in Yellowknife. He said the brotherhood will make plans to be able to distribute some toys to smaller communities next year.

Written by Michel Proulx with files from Juanita Taylor and Kate Kyle