Despite Some Changes Toys 4 Tots Sets Records During Pandemic

(British Beat 66 was one of twelve local bands volunteering to provide a diverse range of musical entertainment for the 2020 Toys 4 Tots fundraiser at the Windsor Moose Lodge No. 1499. Photo above courtesy of British Beat 66.)

The numbers are in and despite the current and continuing Coronavirus pandemic, Windsor’s Tecumseh Road West Moose Lodge 1499 Toys 4 Tots event has been heralded as an outstanding success. Although the Moose has been running a toy drive for the city’s less fortunate families since 1928, live music was added eight years ago with each successive event adding to its popularity. Because of the pandemic, the usual one-day event was stretched over two days, November 24 and 25, with a maximum audience of 50 at any time.

When the dust settled, so to speak, $6,300 was in the kitty with the children of 650 families finding toys under their Christmas trees. The Moose, club administrator Dan Batson tells Eyes on Windsor, does toy distribution a little differently. Family members personally choose toys from 2,000 – another record for the program – arranged in age groups. “People come in and pick the toys which gives them the satisfaction of selecting what they know their children will like.”

Musically, there was considerable variety on the Moose stage with groups favouring country and western, rock and roll and easy listening in what turned out to be more of a series of concerts. Dancing, once a hallmark of the previous daylong events, had to be canceled because of Covid but that, adds Matson, didn’t seem to be a problem for the audience who also enjoy a pasta dinner.

Why the adapted format worked might well be a factor of what has been happening locally. After the pandemic was declared, live events were quickly off the table. It turns out, the Tots concert was the first chance in months for live musicians to perform. It was not only an opportunity for locked down residents to get out and about but also to see and hear live music. An hour separated each set, allowing volunteers to sanitize the hall, part of the Covid precautions.

In total some 50 musicians volunteered their time, along with their technical staff. The bands consisted of the Doo Wop Heartbreakers, The Ride. The Blues Side, J#Major, The Formula, The Source, All Nighters, All Star Country, Bad Moustache, Smokin’ Purple Monkey Gang, Playing Ground and British Beat 66.

Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.