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Paramedic organizes Lillooet Lake toy drive

Gently used toys welcomed at Pemberton ambulance station



All kids deserve a toy at Christmas. That’s the philosophy of Pemberton paramedic Carrie Turchinetz. Through her workplace, Pemberton Ambulance Services, Turchinetz is organizing the 2 nd Annual Lillooet Lake Toy Drive.

Last year, Turchinetz and a member of the St'at'imc Nation Tribal Police, delivered a number of gently used toys to the children living on the five First Nations reserves at the end of Lillooet Lake.

"I heard back from one of the tribal officer who heard from three families who said if it wasn’t for the toys we’d brought their kids wouldn’t have had Christmas. People were very appreciative of it. The response was great. At least 40 families received gifts last year."

Turchinetz, a single mother of a five-year-old daughter, says that while delivery day – which entails more than seven hours of driving – is tiring, the experience is very positive.

"Being a single mom I sometimes get a little down that I can’t always get my daughter what I want for Christmas. Then you see kids who might not get anything and that puts it all into perspective," she says.

Clean, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the Pemberton ambulance station (across from Signal Hill Elementary School) between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily until Saturday, Dec. 17. A few days later, Turchinetz and one of her co-workers will be loading up the ambulance 4x4 and heading out along Lillooet Lake.

This year gifts suitable for teenagers are high on the organizer’s wish list.

"Toys for teenage kids would be quite welcome. That was one thing we did have a hard time finding last year," she says.

Turchinetz was pleased with both the support and response from last year’s drive and hopes more people get involved this year.

"It’s something we hope to be able to continue each year."