An incredibly successful day for the ninth annual Stuff-a-Bus Toy Drive.

It was cold outside and the event ran slightly different because of COVID-19, but the generosity of Cochranites remained the same. 

People were able to donate food, unwrapped toys, gift cards and cash in a contactless way. 

The goal behind the annual event is to collect as many toys and gifts for kids in need in the Cochrane area in support of the Cochrane Activettes Share Your Christmas Hamper Program.

Cochrane & Area Events Society (CAES) Vice-President, Erika Richards says planning for the annual event proved to be a bit tricky with COVID-19 guidelines.

"It's really been good this year, we've had a lot of challenges with COVID, but we got the clear by Alberta Health Services to go ahead by having by-appointment pictures with Santa, so that's been going really great." 

Richards says the need for the donations is greater than ever.

"We're hoping that donations will be up this year, because the need is definitely there a lot more, because lots of things have gone wrong this year."

Dignitaries including Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung, Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie and Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards were among those in attendance. 

Cochranites needed to pre-book their Santa photo and a lot of the pictures shared a common theme. 

"I'm really impressed, a lot of people are wanting to get pictures taken with the masks on because they want to remember this as the COVID Christmas."

She says "If you've got to live with it, then embrace it and enjoy it, so that's what Cochrane and Area Events Society has been trying to do all year. Pivot, change and adapt and still bring all the joy of our events to Cochrane. If you don't have community, then what have you got?"

The toy donations filled a school bus and non-perishable food donations were packed into a COLT bus.