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10 bands, 10 hours; Toystock rocks (12 photos)

Eighth annual toy and canned food drive for Christmas Cheer takes place at Grand Gardens; event included live music, food, amusements for children

What started off as a relatively small, charitable Christmas gesture has grown into a larger charitable local event, as well as something of an annual music festival.

The eighth consecutive Toystock included 10 live bands in 10 hours, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Grand Gardens Sunday, admission by donation of a non-perishable food item, a new or slightly used toy or monetary donation, all of it going to Christmas Cheer.

“This is the eighth consecutive year for Toystock. It started in the basement of a nightclub and it’s worked its way up to a big hall here in the Sault. It’s the kids and the community who drive this,” said Greg Simpson, local musician and entrepreneur, who, along with wife Kerry, established Toystock and are its chief organizers every year.

“Everything goes to Christmas Cheer. The biggest thing about this event is no money changes hands. Everybody volunteers, no one gets paid. It’s all just to donate to the community,” Simpson told SooToday.

City Transit’s Stuff a Bus vehicle was parked outside the Grand Gardens banquet hall, the day’s food and toy donations to be collected and placed inside it, ready to be taken to the Christmas Cheer depot later in the evening.

Grand Gardens donated the hall space to Toystock, with attending families opting to purchase food and beverages if they wished, Grand Gardens servers donating their time.

“It’s nice to see how the community has come together for this event over the years. When Toystock started off it was just a bunch of musicians getting together to donate, then the community started to show up in large numbers,” Simpson said.

Live acts scheduled to perform at Toystock included:

  • Cameron Oliver
  • Jeff and Jeff
  • Case’s Music
  • Kaitlyn Parr
  • Lime
  • Brendan Hodgson
  • Soundcheck
  • Fluid 5
  • Re-Born
  • Bone Yard

“It’s about helping your neighbour, and for me, it’s also about introducing people to the wonders of live music, especially the younger generation,” Simpson said.

“This event has snowballed over the years and I can’t stop now,” he chuckled.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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