When six-year-old Keian was in hospital receiving treatment, the feeling of isolation was all too familiar for the Blundell family, which is why in the year of COVID-19, they say it is all the more important to spread holiday cheer by continuing Keian’s Holiday Wish Toy Drive.
In memory of their son Keian, parents Ryan and Chantal, organize an annual toy drive to benefit BC Children’s Hospital and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
“We’re not unfamiliar with isolation,” said Keian’s dad, Ryan Blundell.
“Keian went through a bone marrow transplant, so for weeks we lived in an isolation bubble where we had to be absolutely cautious of everything we did… because we had a child who had their immune system knocked out… so in the world of COVID… we have that familiarity.”
Keian was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in January 2012 and was admitted to BC Children’s Hospital for treatment.
The young Langley boy was discharged from hospital that year just in time to be at home on Christmas Day to open gifts with his family, instead he return to the hospital with a wagon full of gifts for all the kids who couldn’t return home for the holiday.
Keian was able to return with a wagon full of Christmas cheer in 2013, but passed away in January 2014.
Since then his family has run a holiday toy drive in his honour.
“Things have changed quite drastically this year, we’re not able to have the same outdoor events we do with the RCMP, however they’re still completely supportive of our cause,” said Chantal Blundell, Keian’s mom.
Due to COVID-19 the Blundell family has limited the number of donation drop-off locations this year, but the public can bring unwrapped toys, gift cards or cash to the following Surrey RCMP detachments: 14355 57 Ave., 7235 137 St., 10395 148 St., or 10720 King George Blvd.
And in Langley at Keian’s preschool, Kids in the Grove at West Langley Elementary (9403 212 St.).
Annual Keian’s Holiday Wish Toy Drive starts today! All donations raised go to @BCChildrensHosp and @CanuckPlace Children’s Hospice in memory of six-year-old Keian Blundell, a honourary member of the RCMP, who lost his battle with leukemia in 2014. https://t.co/aa9nyn8xCt pic.twitter.com/6QbqAFFQ3H— Surrey RCMP (@SurreyRCMP) November 13, 2020
“Last year, with the help of the generous community, we were able to raise more than $9400 in cash donations and 1800 toys,” Cst. Mark Peterse, with the Surrey community response unit.
“We appreciate the ongoing support and hope this year, despite the challenges we have faced, we can continue to bring holiday cheer to these children and their families who are already going through so much,” he added.
The family reminds those wishing to donate in-person to follow all public health guidelines.
But for those who wish to donate from a distance the family has included a new element to this year’s fundraiser.
“We know that there is going to be a lot of people who are uncomfortable with doing that (donating in-person) this year, which is why we opted to set up the Amazon Wishlist, where basically when people shop there, they can choose their items and they can click to actually send it to us… so it’ll arrive at our home and there is no contact needed,” Chantal explained.
Keian’s Holiday Wish Toy Drive runs Nov. 13 to Dec. 11 this year.
The family anticipates to deliver all donations to the hospital about a week after the end of the toy drive.
“It’s likely going to look like an outside drop-off,” Chantal said.
Alternatively, shop the wishlist by scanning the QR code located in the information poster.
“It’s about helping these kids have a great Christmas,” Chantal said.