Q: How can I get involved?
The most important thing anyone can do to help out is to tell people about the show. Word of mouth is the greatest form of advertising.
The 2005 show was put together in just under 2 weeks and we had an amazing turn out. The More people that show up, the more toys the kids will receive. We are however open to comments, opinions and suggestions though.
So feel free to email us. If you have any ideas that will help us get more toys to more kids in need, we're all ears.
Q: What happens to the toys once the show is over?
The folks most directly responsible for the distribution of the collected toys post show are CP24 Chum Christmas Wish. They arrange to have the toys picked up after the gig and get them to the children that need them the most.
Q: Can I bring my kids to the show?
Yes! Absolutely! This show is a kid friendly event. Often there will even be a few kids performing the day of. It's kind of a "kids helping kids" theme. This show is all about children. From the toys we raise, to the events of the day.
Q: Is there a cover charge?
No! Absolutely not. All we hope is that you bring an unwrapped toy for a child in need.
Q: Can I get up and jam (sing, play, or perform)?
To all those that have graciously offered their various musical talents, thank you all for the offer, but the line up is pretty much completely arranged and etched in stone months before the show. Unfortunately we only have a certain amount of time to get everyone up, and keep the show moving along at a fairly decent rate. Most of the musicians that are performing, sign on over a year in advance. Please, do let me know if you're interested in maybe getting more involved next year though. Keep in mind that there may be other ways you can help out this year as well, all assistance is appreciated.
Q: How much do the musicians get for the gig?
All musicians are donating their time and talent.
Q: Are there any CD's of past shows?
There are a few clips from 2005, but nothing worth compiling a CD for.
Eric Bower from Bower Audio recorded the 2006 and 2007 shows.
Q: Are there any DVD's of past shows available?
Yes. The 2005 show was videotaped by Sheldon Smoke. All other shows from 2006 to the present have been captured by a very talented man named John McKinney. He not only videotapes the shows, he creates some awesome DVD's for us as amazing keepsakes. Add that to the fact the he is a world class drummer and thankfully the percussionist in our Toy Drive House Band, and you've got one very well rounded person that I feel blessed to call my friend.
Q: How did Neil get the handle "Uncle Neil"?
A: First off and probably most obviously, I am Uncle to a beautiful young lady named Amber. (Who can sing her ass off by the way). You'd most likely assume that's where it all began. You'd be wrong though. It actually started way back in the 80's when I used to compete in the Scottish Highland Games Heavy Events. One of the competitors, a Toronto Police Officer, who was a giant of a man in size, with a heart of pure gold named Dan "Streetcar" Markovic called me "Junior". He started doing that mainly because I wasn't nearly as big as some of the other guys. That name caught on quickly and unfortunately it became more of a shot at me by the other competitors than a friendly nickname. Dan, who was 6 foot 5, over three hundred pounds of solid muscle, and very well respected, (I think feared is more of the word I'd use looking back) by all the other competitors professional and amateur alike, took exception to this and just started calling me Uncle Neil. He'd say it with a look in his eye as if to say, "I dare someone to call him anything else"! They would announce the names of the competitors at the end of every event over the loudspeakers at all the games. All the heavy event competitors had colourful nicknames, and mine was no different. It told a tale without ever having to explain the story. It stuck. For years even after I stopped competing, people would still call me Uncle Neil. I didn't mind. Truth be told, I actually liked it. It has become my official title in every band I have been in since. Most guys I play with now just call me UN.
Q: If I can't make the show, is there another way to donate a toy?
Yes. There are many wonderful people and various business' that have been kind enough to set up "pre-show" drop off boxes for us at various locations. From Oshawa, Etobicoke, East York, North York, Scarborough, Hamilton, Whitby, Brantford, and all points in between. Check our website for locations near you.
Q: How many toys have been raised so far?
We are very proud to have helped over 200,000 children have a Merry Christmas so far to date. To put that into perspective, that would be the Rogers Centre (Or Sky dome if you will) filled 4 times over.
Q: Why do a Toy Drive as opposed to another Christmas charity?
For years I have been doing charity shows of one kind or another for different causes, and truth be told I have enjoyed each and every one of them. However I always wanted to do something that was strictly for the kids who had so little at Christmas. So I originally teamed up with CTV's Toy Mountain and The Salvation Army and organized a toy drive for kids. I personally find that there's nothing harder than asking someone for a donation of money, especially around Christmas time when the holiday season drains both our energy as well as our bank accounts. So I figured why not ask people to donate a toy, spend a few hours out of the entire year with me and my friends, share in the Christmas spirit, and in the process, hopefully help to ensure some kids have a happy holiday. In the meantime they can be entertained and enjoy the feeling of being part of something special. Every year our count grows exponentially. That's inspiring. Here's hoping this year will be even bigger and better. You truly are only as good as the people that you surround yourself with.
Q: How can I get involved with the organizing side of "Uncle Neil & Friends Annual Toy Drive"?
If you want to donate your time, your talent, a toy, or help out in some other capacity, let me know by emailing us, and be sure to put "TOY DRIVE" in the subject header. The more people involved, the more Christmas dreams we can make come true. Any and all help is greatly appreciated. You can also keep an eye on either our web site, follow us on facebook or twitter for details. We are always on the lookout for anyone who would set up a pre-show drop box for us. Does anybody know a printer who can help us out with printing up posters and flyers? Know of anyone who would print up some "Uncle Neil & Friends Annual Toy Drive" T-Shirts? Is there anyone willing to video tape or audio record the show for us? If you have any videos or pictures from last year's show, please let me know. We are also looking for anyone who would be willing to set up a pre-show drop box for us. Most importantly though, we are in need of people to spread the word about the show. As I've said, the math is simple, the more people that come to the show, the more toys we can raise for kids.
Q: How do I go about getting in touch with one of the musicians (or bands)?
Email us at:
firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll personally make sure it'll find it's way into the right hands.
Q: Why is it that you request that the toys be "unwrapped"?
If we had a wrapped toy and didn't open it, it might not get to the kid that suits that toy best. Some toys are gender appropriate, and some are age appropriate. To ensure happiness, we try to match the best toy for each child.
Q: Can I make a cash donation?
Of course you can. Any money received, goes right back into more toys for the kids. There were several companies that have donated cash (or a cheque) in the past, and we use that money to buy more toys for the kids. We do prefer toys of course, but whatever you are able to contribute, is very much appreciated.