Last night, the night before the annual Pan Pacific Christmas Wish toy drive, we decided it would be nice to go. We had never been, and we already had a box of NEW toys that we were going to donate somewhere, so why not there. It would be a good experience for the kids, and it would be a nice start to the Christmas season – all the feels!
We decided to see how our morning went – what time the kids woke up, how everyone was feeling. I thought it would be a good idea to go early, but I also didn’t want to drag the kids out of bed for it. They are usually up around 6, so leaving at 6:30 would get us there by 7 – perfect, I thought.
The kids woke up at 6:50. Harumph. But then they were both dressed and ready to go by 7:20, so we gathered our things and headed out. We brought their backpacks so we could drop them off at school afterwards. We told them we were going out for breakfast! Our kids LOVE breakfast! They are still too young to understand the “event”, but they understand giving, generosity, and Christmas spirit. This was important!
This was our first time, we had no idea what to expect. We got rock star parking one street over, and at that early hour, street parking is free! Woot! When we walked up to the venue, the Pan Pacific, there was lots of activity outside. There was a firemen’s band, tv cameras, a coffee stand, etc. Where do we go, we wondered? There were no signs directing us anywhere, and no one looking like they wanted to be asked any questions. Huh.
We wandered inside the hotel entrance and asked the doorman, and he asked if we were there for the breakfast. We said yes, so he directed us to the left of the escalators. We headed for our destination – the end of the line. But… where was the end of the line? There WAS no “end of the line”. The line wound around and around in the lobby, then headed off down the hallway. We literally could not see the end of the line – we later found out that’s because the line wound around and ended up back at the escalators. Wow.
We decided to just drop off our donation somewhere. Where? There were no signs telling you where to go, what lineup was for what, where we could just drop off stuff, or even where the Toy Mountain was! And since we had come all that way and dragged our kids there (who were whining by now), I wanted to show them the choir and hopefully get a look at the toy mountain. We could see there was a choir up on the second floor, so we headed to the escalators. Three official-looking folks with tags stood guard. We were told no, you cannot go upstairs. You have to wait in line. Oh, okay, where’s the line? They pointed to the right of the escalators. But we just want to go up and look at the tree, we don’t want breakfast. They said “no, we have to be fair to everyone. There’s a lineup.” They glared at us like we were trying to get in to see the Pope!
So in order to go upstairs to see the Toy Mountain, the choir, and probably the Rock 101 crew, we had to stand in line. We were told the line was 45 minutes long. It was 8am. Our kids would be late for school if we stayed. By now the kids were REALLY annoyed, and just wanted to go to Tim Horton’s. We agreed, but we still had this box of toys to donate. Should we just leave it right here on this empty, unmanned table? We carried the box out the front doors.
We milled about, looking lost, and asked the lady who was handing out muffins near the coffee table – where can we leave these toys? She pointed at a well-disguised drop off box – it looked like one of those bins that you get towels from when you go to a hotel pool, but it was wrapped (poorly) in a black cloth. No sign, no one standing there, just non-descript. Huh. So my husband walked over and gently dropped our box of toys into the bin, while I got the kids a lemon poppyseed muffin from the nice lady.
We scooted out of there and headed back to our van. I was sorely disappointed, but my husband tried to make the best of it. Sometimes he’s such a grump, and sometimes the sun shines out his ass! Today, he was full of sunshine. He shrugged, slapped a smile on his face and said “next year we’ll get here at 6am!” I wanted to throttle him, but I also wanted to hug him. Married life is such a balancing act… LOL!
This event is lovely, but I feel like it’s grown too much – they seem to be disorganized. I’m sure from an insider’s perspective, it all seems pretty straight forward. People working there or those that have been before are quite aware of the protocol. But as a first-timer, I must say that it was confusing. I would have appreciated a host of greeters at the door telling people where to go – if they were there for breakfast, the line up is THERE, the wait is THIS long, These things are upstairs, and you can’t see Toy Mountain if you don’t stand in line. If you’re just there to drop off gifts, go THERE, get a free coffee and muffin HERE, and thanks for coming!
Not only was the reception chaotic and cold, I also am disappointed at the handling of the toys. They are quite literally THROWN into a pile. Even if it’s in a box, the clear plastic film can easily be punctured by another box’s corner. Books can be ripped, toys squished. It would be great if they had a tree made out of a series of circular shelves (like bleacher seating?) so once filled they look like a mountain (or Christmas tree!), but the toys are less likely to be squished or ripped.
What I’d also love to see is a #PanXmasWish Express – a drive-through, if you will. A nice line of booths along the road where people could drop off gifts, be handed a muffin and coffee, and off they go. It would move quickly and we wouldn’t have to get out of the car! The firemen’s band was literally beside the road – it would’ve been lovely to listen to as we waited our turn to give our donation!
Instead, I left feeling defeated. Our toys weren’t Star Wars or bicycles or any of the other big gifts donated by businesses and organizations, they were colouring books and markers and toy purses and a little dish set. Nothing fancy, but new and donated with love. Will they get to a child in need? I don’t know. I hope so. But maybe next year I’ll find a smaller event to take the kids and our donations to…