Carleton Place man helps place toys under Christmas trees during the holidays

CARLETON PLACE — Carleton Place resident Peter Porteous believes giving back to his community is important. It is where he has spent his whole life.

“I know what it’s like to not have much and to struggle through some times,” says Porteous. “When my kids were little I didn’t have a business, I worked like everybody else did and it was hard.”

Porteous now owns All Purpose Towing and Autos Sales in Carleton Place, and runs a toy drive in town every November, “I just like to give back to a community that’s given me so much.”

What makes his toy drive special is that every donation made is matched personally by Porteous.

“Every time somebody brings in a toy, we buy a toy. Every time someone brings in a cash donation, we match it,” says the proud business owner.

Remarkably, this year’s edition of the toy drive is record breaking, bringing in three times more than Porteous has previously collected.  

“So this year I think we’re around 1,000 toys and $1,000 in gift cards,” said Porteous.

Everything collected is hand delivered by the Ontario Provincial Police to Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville. Executive Director Erin Lee Marcotte says at least 600 families will benefit from this year’s donations. It comes at a critical time in a year, which has been tough on many.

“Yeah, the families are struggling,” says Marcotte. “Some families have been home schooling for five months so they had to take cuts in their pay. So it was hard to put food on the table, let alone provide that extra special Christmas.”

Laura Purtell is a child protection worker with Family and Children’s Services and works closely with Porteous every year to bring local children the toys they are asking for.

“The community and Peter have come through by far in getting the toys that children are requesting this year, which can be quite expensive for families,” says Purtell. “Frozen is a big hit. And we also have lots of Batman and Spider-Man, and all of the traditional toys.”

The hometown businessman says he doesn’t put on the toy drive for the recognition. For the man who started with little, it’s about making sure other children don’t have to do the same.

“We all want it to be equal for all children to say ‘this is what Santa got me’, and Peter’s donations help with that,” says Purtell.

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