Days after his youngest daughter was born in 2016, Mike Wilson and his family found themselves spending Christmas at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax while Lydia battled respiratory syncytial virus, a serious infection.
While there, the New Germany, N.S., family was given three toys for each of their three kids because the family couldn't go shopping.
Wilson said receiving gifts that Christmas made a huge difference for his family.
He said parents were taken to a room full of gifts and asked to choose what their kids might like and then someone there would wrap the gifts.
"It's something I didn't know that they did, I didn't know it existed," Wilson said.
Motivated by their experience, Wilson wanted to give back, so he decided to launch a toy drive to make up for the ones his family was given.
"It got a lot bigger than we originally expected, just through the generosity of the community," Wilson said.
He's a teacher at New Germany Rural High School. Between students, local businesses and residents, he was able to raise $10,000 worth of toys and gift cards to give back in 2017, whereas $15,000 was raised in each of the past two years.
Donations are collected between September and November.
Wilson dropped the gifts off from this year's toy drive last Thursday and there's now a mountain of presents tucked under the hospital's Christmas tree.
"It's just such a heartwarming feeling to know you're doing something that matters to people you don't know, it's going to help alleviate the stress. We know what that felt like when we were there, we know that stress," Wilson said.
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