By Sports and Lifestyle Editor Cole Schisler

Tyler Barnes, otherwise known as Jinx TK, is busy preparing for his third year of organizing the Toys for Tots charity hip hop show, which will take place December 1 at 9 pm at The Cambie on 63 Victoria Crescent.

Originally from Edmonton, Barnes began his hip hop career at the age of 21. He recorded his first track, and started doing shows a few years later. He became deeply involved in the hip hop community, and cultivated connections with top talent across the country.

In 2007, Barnes moved to Campbell River, and began organizing monthly hip hop nights. Eventually, he moved down to Nanaimo and got involved in the thriving hip hop scene, where he attended local rap ciphers and performed at shows.

Barnes founded Toys for Tots as a way to give back to families that are struggling in the community, as well as to teach his daughter the importance of being selfless and generous to others.

“It was around Christmas time, I thought, why don’t I just throw a show, and try to raise funds for kids,” Barnes said. “That way, if I can keep building it, I can teach her those same qualities, to grow up and be a better member of society.”

The first year of Toys for Tots was met with little fanfare. Barnes was new to throwing fundraisers, and there was little involvement from the community. Despite that, Barnes was able to help seven kids from a few families.

Things took off for Toys for Tots in the second year.  Barnes appeared in the local newspapers and was on Shaw TV doing press for the event, more local businesses got involved, and the level of donations skyrocketed.

“It was a great show. We had lots of local support,” Barnes said. “30 kids got helped from 11 different families. We were able to help all the families that applied, and there were even toys left over to give to other families.”

This year, Barnes says that the level of applications from families is about the same, but the show is being promoted much more. He says that each year is a learning process of finding out what works best for the show. For the future, Barnes is focused on creating a professional website for the event, as well as partnering with bigger businesses, and possibly even expanding the show to other island communities.

“By the time the fifth year comes, Toys for Tots will be much more recognized,” Barnes said.

Currently, Toys for Tots is a 19+ event, as it is far less expensive to put on shows at a 19+ venue than to book a space for an all ages show. This year, Toys for Tots will be held at the Cambie, however Barnes hopes that Toys for Tots will grow into an all ages event.

“We were talking about it last year, but things didn’t fall into place this year. It is definitely an option on the table.”

For more information on Toys for Tots, and how to get involved, visit their Facebook page.

Cole is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in creative writing, minoring in political science. He has an interest in all things exciting, mundane, or otherwise. He hopes to one day become an author, actor, comedian, editor, and rapper, while moonlighting as an astronaut.