THUNDER BAY – Santa Claus is getting a little military help to deliver toys to Ontario’s far north.
On Tuesday, an C-17 Globemaster cargo plane rumbled into Thunder Bay to drop off a load of presents destined for North Caribou First Nation and Keewaywin First Nation.
From Thunder Bay the toys will be delivered to North Star Air’s hangar in Sioux Lookout, with the help of the Gardewine Group and the RCMP, where they will be sorted and shipped out to the two communities.
Jeff Stout, president and chief operating officer at North Star Air, said it’s a campaign all of his employees get behind each year.
It’s especially important now, as the pandemic continues nearly two years in.
“It’s huge and we can’t understate how important this program is, especially in a year like COVID. A lot of these community members have not been able to travel out. Typically they come out to Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay to do Christmas shopping, but it’s hard in years like this,” Stout said.
“The ability to bring the toys to them really ensures that a lot of the youth have a good Christmas.”
It’s also a partnership that can’t work without the RCMP and Canadian military lending the power of their organizations.
“They collect the toys and fly them up to us, and without that piece, this doesn’t happen ... It’s an amazing supply chain that these toys go through to get them to the communities. It’s really a testament to the partnership.”
Stout, who had employees volunteering Thursday on their off-day, said the goal is to hit all 23 communities the airline serves, a goal they’re getting closer two, taking part in the program for seven of the past 11 years.
There’s a lot of work left to go.
“We’re talking about thousands of toys that need to be sorted so that the next phase can continue as planned,” said Cpl. Stacy Morton of the RCMP, in a release.
“We’ve targeted four recipient communities this year.
Toys for the North also serves northern communities in other provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador.
Toys are expected to arrive at their final destinations by mid-month.