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Toys donated in Jacob’s memory to put smiles on faces of Valley children in need

NEW MINAS, NS - He loved toys, Jeeps and off-roading so a toy drive put on by the Pirate Off-Road Nation would have been his kind of Christmas event.

The Valley Chapter of Pirate Off-Road Nation sponsored a toy drive in memory of Jacob Stern in the Walmart parking lot in New Minas on Dec. 2. Stern was a four-year-old boy who passed away in October 2016 after a courageous battle against a rare form of muscle cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma. He was diagnosed at 15 months old.

Jacob’s mom, Melissa Benjamin of Centreville, said it was “awesome” seeing so many toys being collected in his memory for children in need.

“We had a lot of support from our community and the Salvation Army during our rough time that we went through with Jacob and it’s really nice seeing everybody coming together for the holidays and making some magic happen for some kids here in the Valley,” Benjamin said.

She said the Kentville Salvation Army would ensure that the toys make it to area families that can’t afford a lot at Christmas, so that hopefully every child has a gift under the tree this year.

There were several volunteers from the Pirate Off-Road Nation helping out with the toy drive. Jacob, a member of the group, loved Jeeps and off-roading.

“They’ve been a big help and support with everything that we do when it comes to Jacob,” Benjamin said.

As the donations kept rolling in, she said it made her happy seeing so many people taking the time and money to buy a toy and deliver it. Jacob loved toys and seeing children in particular dropping off donations - knowing that they’re going to make another child happy - was especially heart-warming.

Benjamin said the more the merrier in terms of the number of toys they are able to collect. She said they would be having a toy drive in Jacob’s memory every year and they would be hoping for bigger and better results.

Benjamin was impressed with the number of toys already collected about an hour into the event. She said they would definitely pull in a lot of donations.

Benjamin wants to thank everyone who has helped them and everyone who continues to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in Jacob’s name. She said he would be “jumping for joy” to see all the toys.

When asked what she thought of the growing mountain of donations, Jacob’s eight-year-old sister, Maddie Stern, said it put her in the Christmas spirit.

“I hope everyone has a smile on this Christmas,” she said.

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