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No Toystock event this year, public still urged to help Christmas Cheer

COVID-19 concerns derail live event, plans for virtual fundraiser also shelved; organizer says musical charity event will return in 2021
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Darren Taylor/SooToday

COVID-19 restrictions and concerns have led to the cancellation of this year’s Toystock.

Toystock was established in 2012 as a Christmas season charity event in which the public could attend a venue and enjoy hours of live music from local bands, food and family activities in return for making donations of non-perishable food items, a new or slightly used toy or monetary donation, all of it going to Christmas Cheer.

“Unfortunately we are saddened to announce that we will not be moving forward with our annual Toystock event this year,” stated Greg Simpson, local musician and entrepreneur, in a social media post.

Simpson, along with wife Kerry, started up Toystock eight years ago.

“We attempted to find a way to make it work by hosting it live online over 10 days, however, with the increase in COVID cases and the expected sudden changes in ‘bubble’ allowances as well as possible lock downs, our fear is that we will not have the freedom to include enough quality entertainment and donations,” Simpson said.

Some local musicians and sponsors have expressed fears and concerns.

“We all have friends, relatives (and some of our bandmates) who are considered high risk, so we all must do our part to keep these people safe,” Simpson said.

It was hoped Toystock could have taken the form of an online charity fundraiser that people could have donated to while musicians went to different locations and live streamed a band each night.

“This has proven to be very difficult because all of the fundraising sites want to take a percentage of the donations and we have always stood by the fact that no one is to profit in any way from this event,” Simpson stated.

“We feel that we just cannot showcase our local talent and fundraise properly due to the rise in COVID cases and the uncertainty of another possible lock down. We would rather postpone it until next year and do this the right way, with parents and children dancing and singing together while experiencing the wonderful talent the Sault has to offer first hand.”

Simpson is urging the public to still donate personally to the Christmas Cheer depot located at the old Walmart location in Station Mall. The depot will be open from Nov. 16 to Dec. 16, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Suggested donations include:

  • canned goods such as hearty soups, stews, jams, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, tuna and salmon
  • new toys, puzzles, and games
  • new knitted mitts, scarves, hats, toques, and slippers
  • socks
  • batteries for toys
  • gift cards

It should be noted Christmas Cheer is accepting only new items this year, due to ongoing COVID health and safety regulations.

“We hope you will still donate and support Christmas Cheer this year. Next year we promise to make it the biggest and best Toystock event yet. We thank everyone in the community for the years of ongoing support,” Simpson’s social media post reads.

Last year’s eighth consecutive Toystock, held from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 24 at the Grand Gardens, included 10 live bands in 10 hours.