Our goal is to give families in-need a memorable Christmas experience. We provide a package with a tree and decorations, a grocery gift card, and items from a family's personal wish list. Last year, we delivered these packages to 509 families one week before Christmas.
However, to make 2016 really special, we invited 14 of the families in our program to join the Toronto Raptors for a private party at the team's practice facility - the BioSteel Centre!
The party was set up in the basketball court for a day of holiday fun.
On December 11th, parents and their children enjoyed a day of hanging out with Santa, face painting, a bouncy castle and jump'n'slide, holiday cookie crafts, and of course - playing basketball. Here, the families were surprised by the players with massive bags of goodies and got to learn some really cool tricks of the game.
These kids are all smiles after receiving a bag of Christmas presents from Cory Joseph.
Jason Thompson showing this happy family some of their surprise presents!
Jakob Poeltl and a lucky kid play on the bouncy slide.
To top it off, everyone was invited upstairs to enjoy a delicious Christmas-themed dinner with the players and their significant others and children. The families in our program were treated to top-notch turkey, beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and many other holiday foods with plenty of dessert! To wash it all down, the players competed against the kids in video games and truly opened up their hearts to the families. Check out our Facebook video from our event and peek at more photos from the event below:
It appeared that some of the players were diagnosed with gift-giving fever, because they visited us at Santa's Workshop (aka our warehouse) on December 17th for more action!
Charity co-founder Sarah and a volunteer briefing some of the players on delivery day.
About six of the families in our program with older children whom of which have aspirations of being the next Raptor were selected to receive a special delivery! The players braved the extreme cold and happily trudged through the snow to play Santa and deliver our Christmas packages right to the families front door!
Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl leaving the warehouse to deliver presents to a lucky family!
Imagine the surprise on the children's faces when they open their front door and see their favourite player! The families were so shocked that it took them a moment before they started screaming in excitement! Check out this funny Facebook video that shows the players on Snapchat preparing for delivery.
Holiday Helpers Canada annually teams up with the Toronto Raptors to find exciting ways to provide an amazing Christmas surprise. We work together to ensure that families-in-need get an opportunity that would otherwise be impossible to expreience. This has resulted in hundreds of families from the Toronto area to meet the Raptors team, receive a Christmas package and of course, an unforgettable encounter.
Holiday Helpers Canada's team, volunteers and Raptors players in the warehouse, aka Santa's Workshop
We are so thankful to the MLSE for this opportunity to provide to families-in-need. We are honoured to be part of such an incredible initiative and we know that the party and the deliveries will create happy memories to last a lifetime! We especially thank the entire Toronto Raptors staff and team for their efforts and generous hearts, and especially for giving us a peek in to all of the charitable work each player provides to our local community. We are so lucky to have a professional sports team that works hard to give back to Toronto!
Visit our Facebook page for more exciting news! Be sure to share your feel-good moments by tagging us: #HolidayHelpers #HH20Years #HH500families on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.