Record number of toys delivered to Ronald McDonald House

Marion Sanford and her friends delivered a truck full of toys to Saskatoon's Ronald McDonald House today. Staff there say they've never seen a toy donation this big.

Truckload of donations made in memory of boy killed in ATV accident

Marion Sanford and her friends delivered a Mack truck full of toys to Saskatoon's Ronald McDonald House. (Don Somers/CBC)

A family from Frontier, Sask., carried load after load of new toys into Ronald McDonald House today, calling it their new Christmas tradition.

Marion Sanford and her family spent close to six months living at the Saskatoon charity last year, as Sanford's five-year-old son, Rhett, endured numerous surgeries nearby at Royal University Hospital.
Marion Sanford and her husband made the donation after their sons were badly hurt in an ATV crash. Their oldest son died. (Don Somers/CBC)

Rhett and his older brother Blaine were badly injured after their ATV crashed near their farm in April 2015. Blaine died on the way to the hospital. Rhett broke his neck and sustained several injuries.

"This was our home away from home and this is what kept the glue still sticking as a family," said Marion. 

Giving back

Rhett is walking and skating again, and has made an "excellent" recovery, his mother said.

Part of the reason I do this is because I want my son to be proud of me.- Marion Sanford

To give back, Marion and her husband loaded their own pickup truck full of toys last Christmas, driving five hours to donate them to Ronald McDonald House.

This year, when friends and extended family members asked if they could help, the Sanfords' toy drive got a lot bigger. They teamed up with Innovation Credit Union, setting up donation boxes at 28 locations across the province and collecting more toys Saturday at the Walmart in Swift Current, Sask.

The donations included pajamas, housewares, makeup, diapers, bags, blankets, gift cards and outerwear.

The charity can only accept new items, because so many of the children staying there have weak immune systems.

"[Blaine] was always giving," Marion said. "He just made a big difference. Part of the reason I do this is because I want my son to be proud of me.

"He would be so excited to be part of this."

Running out of toys

Breaking into tears as Marion, her friends and volunteers carried in the donations, Ronald McDonald House CEO Tammy Forrester said this donation came as a relief.

Tammy Forrester, executive director of Ronald McDonald House, says the toy drive came as a relief to the charity. (Don Somers/CBC)

Each child staying at Ronald McDonald House gets to choose a new toy before they check out and head home. Last year, the charity handed out close to 2,000 toys. 

"About a month ago we started noticing that toy room donations were getting less and less," said Forrester.

"That same day we found this email about a toy drive going on in southwestern Saskatchewan."

She said the organization has never had this size of donation before.

"The loss of a child can create a lot of different feelings inside someone and I just can't believe how big their hearts are," said Forrester. "It's just an amazing impact on all of us."

The Sanfords say this will be their Christmas tradition for years to come. (Don Somers/CBC)