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About 17 years ago, a group from Fraser Heights Secondary visited Tijuana, Mexico to build a small house for a family in need.
When they returned to Surrey, they started thinking about ways they could give back to their local community as well.
Teacher Martin Lim (right) was part of that group, and if you visit the wood shop at the school in November and early December, you can see what they came up with.
Lined up on work benches are dozens of colourful rocking moose, dinosaur and sea planes – all in various stages of completion, and all to be donated to the Surrey Christmas Bureau.
On any given evening, there will be between five and 30 volunteers, says fellow organizer and tech ed teacher Chris Mills, depending on what process – cutting to sanding, painting to building – is needed.
"They're students, they're parents, they're community members, they're family… they're whoever wants to come," adds Lim.
The first year, the school made just 10 rockers. Now 60 of the bright and unique toys are donated to families in need over the holidays. Donations of materials from the community has helped expand the effort exponentially.
For Grade 10 student Anson Chung, the reasons he helps out are simple: "It's a charity and it's fun," he says.
Vy Pham (top left, beside Chung) has been volunteering to make the toys for six years now. She graduated two years ago from Fraser Heights, but still returns each year to lend a hand.
"It became sort of a habit, and now I just really enjoy it," says Pham. "It's the people, mostly. It's just really nice to see everybody come together and help out and do something good."
Tony Miles, a Surrey Christmas Bureau board member, visited the makeshift toy shop for the first time this year and was heartened by the tireless work and dedication of volunteers.
He has also seen the look on the faces of grateful recipients when they see the colourful, well-built toys they can put under the Christmas tree for their children.
"Parents are immediately drawn to them," Miles says. "I think for a lot of families, these become heirlooms."
The district's transportation department picks up the toys to deliver to the Christmas bureau each year.