Pictured are Laura Marryatt (left) and her mother Carol Hayne in front of the IWK Children’s Hospital delivering their donation of toys.

LITTLE ANSE: One local family continues to turn a tragedy into a good news story for the holidays.

On November 20, Carol Hayne and her daughter Laura Marryatt travelled to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax to drop off another $9,000 worth of toys, in memory of their brother and son Jason Marryatt, who died on August 20, 2017 at the age of 21 after a lengthy battle with Ewings Sarcoma.

During his illness, Jason stayed at the IWK for six months after breaking his femur.

“Every year, if I’m able to do this toy drive, it makes my Christmas,” Hayne told The Reporter. “That is my Christmas, to get the toys to those kids in memory of him.”

The effort started on August 20 when the annual toy drive was held at the Little Anse Social Action Centre.

“We couldn’t do too much because of COVID, but there were only so many people that could come in at a time, and donated toys,” Hayne recalled. “They had chowders for take-out and hot dogs. It went really well, we had music.”

With people continuing to donate toys or money to purchase toys even after the summer event, the mother and daughter then went shopping. Despite the pandemic, Hayne confirmed that they raised as much as they did last year.

“We had a lot of toys this year, it was a good turn-out,” Hayne said. “I didn’t think it would be, with the COVID, but it went really well.”

To ship the toys to Halifax, the Strait regional centre for education donated a cube van. Because their shuttle collided with a deer just before the trip, Strait Area Transit was unable to help out this year as they have in the past.

“It was very nice,” Hayne said of the donation. “Everybody is really good when it comes to that stuff. Strait Area Transit has been really good to us over the years to supply the shuttle.”

Because of public health restrictions, this year Hayne, Marryatt and their driver had to unload the van, then the toys were taken into the hospital by the child life services team.

“We weren’t allowed to have a lot of people there, and we weren’t allowed to go into the hospital,” Hayne explained. “Everything was unloaded, and then they stored it for so long, then they take it out and take it into the hospital.”

This year’s load included more items for older children than previous years, Hayne said.

“We a lot of dolls and race tracks for boys. We had gift cards, and different stuff for older kids. Actually, this year we had some clothing. We had t-shirts, and hats for older children,” she noted. “It was different from last year. Last year we didn’t have clothes and stuff, and water bottles.”

This week, Hayne entered the hospital for surgery, but she said finding out she had breast cancer was far easier to handle than learning about her son’s illness. At 56, Hayne added that she is maintaining a positive attitude.

“I’m doing fine,” she added. “To hear it when your child has it, is a totally different thing than hearing that I have it. I can handle me having it, I can’t handle my children having it.

“Everything will be alright, I have faith.”