Giving Back: Alumnus makes season brighter for underprivileged kids

Peel Police constables hold stuffed animals in front of Toys for Tots logo
Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 9:36am
Blake Eligh

The efforts of an Erindale College alumnus are helping to make the holiday season a little brighter for thousands of underprivileged children in the Region of Peel.

Over the past 14 years, geography alumnus Dean Fox has helped to raise thousands in cash and toy donations for “Toys for Tots.” The annual toy drive, organized by Peel Regional Police in partnership with Canadian Tire and the Salvation Army, provides children in Peel Region with holiday gifts.

Together with IOP Graphics business partner Derek Thompson and Mississauga pub owner Richard Hugglestone, Fox spearheads fundraising efforts throughout the year through corporate donations, raffles and golf tournaments. The initiative caps off with an annual two-night fundraiser during the last weekend of November. Held at Hugglestone’s Erindale watering hole, Mulligan’s Pub, the event features live music, a silent auction, prize raffles and the chance to meet sports celebrities. Over the years, Fox and his fellow fundraisers have raised about $800,000 in cash and toys for the charity, including this year's contribution of $140,000. “Our current goal is to get to $1-million,” Fox says.

Fox, Thompson and Huggleston drum up donations from an extensive professional and personal network that includes a cohort of loyal Erindalians who attend the November pub nights each year, including economics and politicial science alumnus Chris Melidoniotis, who traces his friendship with Fox in the late 1980s, when they played football together and hung out at the Blind Duck pub. Now an investment advisor with TD Wealth, Melidoniotis says he makes a point of attending the annual event. “It’s a great cause, and supports people in our community,” he says. Fox is touched by the support of his fellow Erindalians. “They see what we are doing and they come out to support our efforts.”

Peel Regional Police are also grateful for the support. “They donate skids and skids of toys every year,” says Peel Regional Police Constable Laura Tyrer. “What they do is a significant support towards the Toys for Tots campaign. With their help, we were able to assist almost 8,000 children last year.”

The trio were honoured earlier this year with the Paul Harris Fellow award from the Rotary Club of Mississauga, however, Fox is reluctant to take credit for the success of the initiative.  “I know a lot of people who I can call on for help,” he says. “Because of what we do, people come to us with new toys. We get them to the Peel Regional Police and into the community.”