The Christmas spirit was very much alive at the Magical Christmas Forest held in the parish hall at St. John’s Anglican church on Highway 9, just east of Orangeville. The hall was filled with Christmas trees decorated and delivered by several local businesses and emergency services to assist the Orangeville Police Service Toys for Tots and Food Bank program.
It is a new idea that hopefully will catch on and take place for years to come explained Reverend John Lockyer, Pastor at St. Johns. “We have always had a tree in the hall for families and kids to bring toys to and we wondered how we could ramp up the display to encourage people to bring in more toys. It’s a way of reaching out and and expressing our support for the community,” explained Reverend Lockyer. “We have opened the hall and made it available to the community and also show our support of our emergency services such as the fire fighters and police.” The Orangeville Police Service runs the Toys for Tots and Food Bank program every holiday season and this year proposed a special challenge to fellow emergency service partners, service clubs, car dealerships and local businesses. Services and business were asked to decorate a Christmas tree and bring it to the parish hall to create the Magical Forest. The Police Service said, “The public will be invited to attend St. John’s Church on the weekend of December 9, to December 11, to place a new unwrapped toy or food item under their favourite tree. Our hope is that friends, family and colleagues of our various partners will participate to help earn bragging rights for the most popular tree in the Christmas forest.” When a toy of food item is delivered, a ballot is cast for a person’s favourite tree in the forest with a chance to win that tree and have it delivered to their home. When the challenge was issued, Blackstock Ford accepted and immediately started working on their Christmas tree. “It was a challenge from the Chief of Police.
(Orangeville Police Service Chief Wayne Kalinski) It was a collaborative idea that we came up with so we could do something different this year regarding a place to drop off Toys for Tots for Christmas,” explained Blackstock Ford president Jim Carson.
“It’s a challenge to the dealers in Orangeville in the automotive businesses including some of the suppliers. We’re going to put up Christmas trees in the church hall. There are signs on there from the supporters who will donate the trees afterward.
People can drop off the toy and put it under their favourite tree. It’s a neutral place where all the automotive dealerships can show their support for the community and allow people to drop in there and give a toy donation. It’s one of those times of year where everybody comes together. We’re competitors in many ways but it’s a joint project to make it easy for everyone,” he explained of how local car dealerships are working together to make this happen.” MacMaster Buick GMC and Orangeville Chrysler are also involved in the event.Rose Hodgson, of Blackstock Ford is a key organizer of the event “The toy is their entrance ticket. Visitors can put the toy under a tree and they can also put their name in a ballot box,” Ms. Hodgson explained. “A name will be pulled from the ballot box of each tree and that person wins the tree and we have to deliver it to the winner. It’s a good deal as they will receive a decorated tree.” The Magical Christmas Forest took place over the weekend from Friday, December 9, to Sunday, December 30. Written by Brian Lockhart