Thunder Bay

Military plane lands in Thunder Bay to deliver Toys for the North

A Canadian military Hercules aircraft landed at the Thunder Bay airport on Friday, loaded with 2,700 kilograms (6,000 pounds) of toys and other items to send to remote northern Ontario First Nations during the holiday season.

RCMP, North Star Air, Gardewine Freight and Canadian military partner to make holidays brighter

Volunteers with the Toys for the North campaign show some of the items that will be donated after unloading a Canadian military Hercules flight that landed in Thunder Bay on Friday. (Matt Vis/CBC)

Thousands of toys and holiday joy are one step closer to reaching their Christmas destinations.

A Canadian military Hercules aircraft landed at the Thunder Bay airport on Friday, loaded with over 2,700 kilograms (6,000 pounds) of toys and other items to send to remote northern Ontario First Nations  during the holiday season.

Volunteers unload the Hercules plane. (Matt Vis/CBC)

This marks the fifth year that North Star Air has partnered with the RCMP's Toys for the North campaign.

Karen Matson, the director of marketing and community relations for North Star Air, said the campaign is about spreading holiday cheer.

"There's a lot of families up north who don't receive anything for Christmas," Matson said. "Hopefully this will brighten their day and make their year, hopefully, and make a change in the north."

Matson said there will be more than just toys headed north.

"It's basic needs, diapers, kleenex, toilet tissue," she said. 

"We had a wonderful organization from Toronto jump on board this year. They put out the word and raised money and then went out and purchased snowsuits for the kids, hats and mitts, packages for teenagers. We're going to add that to the load this year and make even that much more smiling faces up north."

Once unloaded, the items are transported by Gardewine Freight Delivery and then sorted by volunteers. The packages will then be brought back to the North Star Air hangar, where they will await delivery to their final destination.

"The amount of work this took to coordinate from all the way down east where the toys are collected to getting these toys up here, it's a lot of work by the organizations involved," Matson said. "Once we work together we gel and make it happen."

A Hercules plane was loaded with more than 6,000 pounds of toys and other items that will be sent to remote communities as part of the Toys for the North campaign. (Matt Vis/CBC)

Capt. Kevin Sawyers said the plane is one of two military aircraft that left Trenton, Ont. on Friday, with the other headed east to Goose Bay, Nfld.

"Obviously this time of year it's a great thing to be a part of, especially as a member of the military to take part in something like this that's supporting Canadians," Sawyers said.

Sawyers, who like the rest of his flight crew was in a festive spirit donning a Santa hat, said flying a plane full of toys is a nice change of pace from his regular duties.

"Usually we're training for dropping meals and bullets, or whatever it is out of the Herc here into a theatre of operation," Sawyers said. "Being able to come and transport toys to kids is absolutely something we're proud to take part in."

Two bundles of items will head north to Cat Lake and Sachigo Lake on Friday.

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