Santa Larry toy drive a success in New West

Royal City residents rallied around a cause near and dear to the heart of Santa Larry.

Larry Tamkin was well-known to generations of local families, having served as New Westminster’s Santa for 45 years, first at the old Woodward’s department store and then at Royal City Centre. In honour of Tamkin, who passed away on March 4, Royal City Centre held the Santa Larry toy drive from the time Santa arrived at the mall on Nov. 24 until he returned to the North Pole on Dec. 24.

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Lindsey Zinn, a marketing associate with Strathallen, said the mall has had toy drives in the past before, but believes the latest toy drive had an “overwhelming” response because it was held in honour of Santa Larry. Tamkin’s wife Susan (aka Mrs. Claus) was touched by the response to the toy drive.

“It was a very moving experience,” she said in a statement to the Record. “Many people came to share stories and tears about Santa Larry. I saw small children putting toys in the bin. So moving.”

The toys will be dispersed to the pediatric ward at Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster Family Place, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society and St. Barnabas Church.

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