GURU Nanak’s Free Kitchen (GNFK) 2nd Annual Toy Drive collected over 3,500 new toys for kids in need. In partnership with the Surrey-based Sikh Academy Elementary School, families turned up in droves to wrap new toys. An emotional Paul Hundle, coordinator of the event, was surprised at the response: “It’s incredible how the community can get together for such a worthy cause. We expected around 2,000 toys but we far exceeded our goal. Because of the generosity of the community, we are able to put smiles on thousands of kids across the Lower Mainland.”
Some of the beneficiaries of this event are Iraqi Christian refugee families. Mani Fallon, who helped deliver over 400 toys from this event to this community who have lost loved ones and are still traumatised with the tragedy in Iraq, said: “I am grateful to GNFK for this toy drive. These are the forgotten kids. They have seen so much horror and are still suffering. Thank you to the community for their generosity.”
Moe and Susan Bhatha work closely with the aboriginal groups and Moe said: “Wow, what an amazing spirit. This is what Christmas is all about. The Sikh community is known for its generosity. It has delivered once again.” Moe added that the aboriginal groups are also forgotten during the Christmas period as most toy donations normally end up at hospitals and so on.
Several politicians also turned up at the event. Surrey MLA and Minister for Advanced Education Amrik Virk made his second consecutive appearance at the event. He addressed the GNFK volunteers by thanking them for their hard work in making this event successful. Also in attendance was the local NDP MLA Harry Bains, who also mingled with the volunteers thanking them for their selfless service. Kerry-Lynne Findlay, MP for Delta-Richmond East, was thankful to GNFK and the Sikh Academy and all the community for bringing smiles to kids faces.
Several parents thanked GNFK for their dedication and professionalism. Dave Sandhur said: “I help raise funds for worthy causes and this is definitely one of them. I bring my whole family to GNFK events, and they all enjoy it. It teaches my kids to be humble and the art of giving to those in need.”
GNFK thanked all those who donated and those who gave their time for this noble cause. GNFK is not affiliated to any religious institution and is a volunteered-based organisation that simply relies on community donations. Apart from the weekly food drives (Sunday’s at Hastings / Main in the Downtown Eastside), they also have several special events: Annual Cup Cake event in celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday, thousands of cup cakes are baked, packed and delivered to most Lower Mainland shelters on behalf of the Sikh community; GNFK Toy Drive is held in the second week of December; GNFK Valentines event, when flowers and chocolates are delivered to shelters; GNFK Simran Evening where people of all faiths are invited to attend a meditation for peace; GNFK Food Drive held in April where food is donated to food banks.
GNFK wished everyone a happy and peaceful festive season.