A mother and grandmother say that this year's toy drive will be more important than ever before as they bring smiles to the faces of isolated and sick children.

Tiffany Grant and her mother, Beverly, run a toy drive each year in memory of Tiffany's daughter Emma-Lee Arnould who died of cancer before Christmas of 2017.

Emma was not yet a year old when she was diagnosed with cancer, spending the rest of her life in the hospital.

"I lost such a big part of my life," Tiffany says. "To be able to keep her memory alive and for people to be able to know who she is and what she had, and the impact she has on people in this world, Manitoba, Winnipeg... is so important to me."

Tiffany says her biggest fear is that no one will remember her daughter.

The women say when Emma was in the hospital, the staff became close to Emma.

"The nurses and the staff on CK5, they became very much a family member to me. They became family to Emma too. When we were given a choice if we wanted hospice at home or to have hospice at the hospital my exact words were 'this is Emma's home. This is all she knows," Tiffany says.

When Emma died, her family asked for toy donations instead of flowers. The toys were then given at Christmas to the same hospital zone, CK5, that Emma stayed in.

To honour Emma, the first and second generation of women continue to collect toys each year. This year, the donations are needed more than ever.

"At Christmas, we take them there for the kids to have and to help the parents out. And this year, it is going to be even worse for them because they are only allowed one parent in the room," Beverly says. "It is going to be even more difficult for kids to not be at home for Christmas." 

The toys are to bring joy to children at Christmas and to get them through difficult procedures and medical tests.

"When they get a toy from people they do not know, to see their face, they just light up," Tiffany says. "It is just like all of those bad things just go away."

The pair collect toys all year round to donate at Christmas.

This year, the drive is unable to operate in the same way it typically does due to distancing. The toys will need to be delivered by courier instead of Tiffany and Beverly dropping them off. The pair has been encouraging people to donate directly to the Children's Hospital Foundation so the staff can purchase the toys. The drive ends on Monday.

toys on tableThe Grant women have been collecting toys for the Children's Hospital since Emma's death. (Beverly Grant/Facebook)