Given a choice between skating or swimming Thursday morning, the majority of the students at the 15th annual Royal LePage Children's Fun Day charity event chose... skating.
"There's more skaters than swimmers usually," said event coordinator Melanie Luksys, sales representative at Royal LePage R.E. Wood Realty, who joined some of the children for a few laps of the Kinsmen Memorial Arena.
"Because we're a hockey town," she added with a smile.
"We've had a lot of kids who have never skated before get on the ice. This year I talked to about six kids who had never been on skates before. They love it."
But the Kinsmen Pool had no shortage of swimmers and the lineup for the diving board was a long one.
"They're doing what they love, which is what they should be doing when they've done this in return," she said, nodding toward a plastic 'tree' made from hundreds of bags of food on-stage in the Lions Auditorium.
The Royal LePage event - unique to Tillsonburg - is free for the children, including busing to the Community Centre, through the generosity of sponsors and the organizers.
"All we ask is that they bring a donation of food for The Salvation Army Christmas hampers," said Luksys. "There's probably 300 bags here... that are full. It's fantastic."
Pastor Ron Ferris of The Salvation Army, Tillsonburg, who was at the Community Centre Thursday morning to speak to the children, said food items are checked for dates, then go almost immediately into hampers.
Grade 4-6 students from all five Tillsonburg elementary schools participated – South Ridge Public School, Maple Lane Public School, St. Joseph's Catholic School (Grade 4 only), Monsignor JH O'Neil Catholic School, and Rolph Street Public School – a total of 567 children.
This year's sponsors included Lang's Bus Lines and drivers; Tim Hortons; Metro; Jenkins and Gilvesy law firm; Scotiabank; Michael Jansen HLC; TD Canada Trust; BMO Bank of Montreal; Lise Morton, CIBC mortgage advisor; FirstOntario Credit Union; CIBC; and RBC.
"All of our (Royal LePage) staff is here today, and we have the teachers and parent volunteers," said Luksys. "And some of the sponsors as well. Some of the principals stop by, too."