(left to right) Makayla Bennett, Jennyka Cozzuol and Emma Vanderlee collected nearly $5,000 in toys and cash during their fourth annual toy drive. (Submitted photos)

(left to right) Makayla Bennett, Jennyka Cozzuol and Emma Vanderlee collected nearly $5,000 in toys and cash during their fourth annual toy drive. (Submitted photos)

North Delta girls raise nearly $5,000 in toys and cash for sick kids

Emma Vanderlee, Makayla Bennett and Jennyka Cozzuol fourth annual toy drive doubled last year’s total

By Ryan-Alexander McLeod for the North Delta Reporter

Forget Santa Claus, this trio of North Delta teens has taken over bringing Christmas cheer where it’s needed most. And this year, they’re expanding.

Going home for Christmas is an age-old tradition during the holiday season, a story told a thousand times over, but what about those who don’t get to go home?

Best friends, Emma Vanderlee (12), Makayla Bennett (12) and Jennyka Cozzuol (13) had an idea four years ago to do something special for kids stuck celebrating Christmas in local hospitals.

It all started when Emma visited the pediatric ward at Surrey Memorial Hospital in early December 2016.

“I had lots of questions for my mom. I told my mom I wanted to do something special to help the kids out and enjoy Christmas, especially if they couldn’t be home for the holidays,” Emma said. “We really want the hospital to kind of be like home for Christmas for all the families that can’t be home. My two best friends and I came together and have been doing this every year since.”

Every year since they started, Emma, Makayla and Jennyka have exceeded their fundraising goals and followed up with an even stronger campaign the following year through every sort of entrepreneurial endeavor, including making and selling home-made “slime.”

This year, they’ve managed to do more than ever, raising nearly $5,000 in toys and cash — more than double their 2018 total — to bring Christmas cheer where it’s needed most.

RELATED: North Delta girls collect toys, $2,200 in cash for BC Children’s Hospital

For their 2019 fundraising effort, the girls helped BC Children’s Hospital, Deltassist and the Surrey Christmas Bureau’s Adopt-A-Family program, while also raising money for a family friend who recently learned that his cancer had returned.

“I feel it’s important to be a part of your community and to make it a better place,” Jennyka said.

“Christmas is a very special time to do this for those who are dealing with any struggles or with being sick, because Christmas should be about happiness and giving — they are already dealing with so much.”

The girls admit that it took a ton of leg work, through Christmas fairs at North Delta schools and their fourth annual Sundowner Pub Toy Drive, but that it was just the right thing to do.

“It was never really our goal to grow this into something bigger, we just knew we wanted to help people. It was kind of a surprise to see how quickly it did grow and to see how many others wanted to help,” Makayla said. “There are so many people that aren’t able to spend time with their families, so hopefully we are able to help them smile a little bit during [Christmas].”

RELATED: North Delta girls help bring smiles to sick kids

SEE ALSO: North Delta girls collect toys for sick kids



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

TEASER
WATCH: Surrey-made anti-bullying video urges youth to #BlockEmDontShareEm

“Break the chain by deleting the image and never forwarding – not even to a best friend’

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read