AMHERST, N.S. – Glenn and Traci Roberts have long believed in giving back to the community.
As the owners of Amherst Toyota they have done that in a variety of ways, especially at Christmas when the dealership and its community partners and customers come together to collect toys for the Christmas for Kids program.
“We believe strongly in being able to give back to the community we’re doing business in and this was a great opportunity when we started because there was a huge shortage of toys,” owner and dealer principle Glenn Roberts said.
Soon after acquiring the dealership, Roberts said he looked for ways to give something back to the community. At first, they distributed gear to minor hockey players and participated in various food drives. It was the toy drive, however, that has taken root and continued to grow every year over the past nine years.
“We’re really starting to get some good community involvement in the toy drive and it really shows how much people in the Amherst area care about their community and their children,” Roberts said. “Every year we think we can’t do better and we do a bit better. It’s always something we look forward to at this time of year because it raises people’s spirits and goes to show what kind of community we all live in.”
This year, the program had the support of other corporate partners such as Giant Tiger, Walmart and Amherst Pharmasave that allowed the toy drive to collect toys their locations while the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers also supported the program collecting toys at a recent junior hockey game.
Sales manager Mike Morris, who was joined by a large group of Amherst Toyota employees dropping the toys off at the Christmas for Kids centre, said the company couldn’t do the toy drive without its customers.
“We’ve been blessed with strong customers and our corporate partners, who have allowed us to park in front of their businesses and collect toys,” Morris said. “The Amherst Christmas parade was also a huge success and many people came out to donate. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to give back.”
Morris said the amount of toys collected was the biggest amount in eight years.
Along with the support of Giant Tiger, Walmart and Amherst Pharmasave as well as the Ramblers, Morris said customers and community members also brought toys to the dealership on Lord Amherst Drive as well as to the Amherst and Springhill parades and Moonlight Madness in Sackville, N.B.
By coming out to the Christmas for Kids centre, Toyota’s employees also got to see the work that goes on behind the scenes in support of children across Cumberland County.
“These are the people who really need the pats on the back,” Morris said. “They’re all volunteers. It’s one thing to collect and donate, but it’s another thing to make sure that it happens and the children are all looked after.”
Barbara Baxter of the Amherst Lions Club said the toy drive is a huge contributor to the Christmas for Kids campaign.
“Quite often it makes the difference,” Baxter said. “This year it’s really going to help and it’s going to make an enjoyable Christmas for so many children across the county.”
Baxter said she is amazed at the response to the toy drive and the support from the community, from the people who make donations, to the people who collect the angels and buy gifts for the children to the volunteers who come out to the centre every year.