Hamilton News By Gary Farrow –  9 Dec, 2016

The Hits Toy Run is returning to Hamilton this month.

The Hits Waikato team will be travelling around the Waikato collecting toys for St Vincent de Paul.

This year, the Toy Run will also make personal trips to houses within Hamilton. Registrations for it to collect toys from your home are open at http://www.thehits.co.nz/whats-on/waikato/the-hits-toy-run-2016/

“It’s four years we’ve done it with The Hits radio station,” said St Vincent de Paul Waikato general manager Mike Rolton.

“Basically they run the whole Toy Run themselves, and on our behalf through our contacts we distribute the toys to people we know and identify as those families that are already struggling over this time of year.”

Rolton said St Vincent communicates with agencies that work with families under stress and in need throughout the year.

The Hits Toy Run means a lot of children who otherwise would not receive gifts for Christmas get to open presents.

Whereas St Vincent de Paul may not otherwise have the resources to carry out such a large operation, The Hits Toy Run means they can cover a lot of ground.

A full sized Hamilton Go bus is used to transport the gifts.

“Last year we gave out 10,000 gifts to 960 families – and that covered 3373 children,” said Rolton.

He added that as well as providing publicity, The Hits staff get right behind the operation of the Toy Run.

“I meet them at some pick-up points if I’ve got time and just watch it all happen, but they really drive it, and we’re lucky enough to be able to make all the right connections for them.

“They load the full-sized Go Bus up with toys, bring it to the St Vincent de Paul Centre at 42 High St in Frankton, and we set that up like a toy shop. We have it all in age and gender right around the shop, so people can easily go out and select whatever they’re looking for.”

Anyone with new or used toys that they can spare are encouraged to start gathering them together. Collection sites and times will be publicised throughout December on The Hits 98.6.

“In a lot of cases, parents have to say to the kids, ‘You either get a gift, or we give you some Christmas dinner; you can’t have both’,” said Rolton.

“If you are down here when we start delivering, the relief on the parents’ faces is incredible, and the smiles on the children’s faces say it all, because they’re going to get a gift for Christmas.”