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Big response as 630 CHED Santas Anonymous gets back into gear

Click to play video: '630 CHED Santas Anonymous opens its depot for 2018'
630 CHED Santas Anonymous opens its depot for 2018
WATCH ABOVE: (From Nov. 14, 2018) The 630 CHED Santas Anonymous depot opened its doors today so Edmontonians can now drop off new, unwrapped toys to the facility or to donation boxes set up around the city – Nov 14, 2018

It was a full house on Thursday when 630 CHED Santas Anonymous officially opened its doors to drop-in volunteers.

By early afternoon, the charity had so much support already that some people had to be turned away.

“We were full right away at 9 a.m. when we opened, it was absolutely fantastic,” Santas Anonymous executive director Lana Nordlund said before explaining why some prospective volunteers had to be turned away.

“We were just at capacity with not enough things for them to do,” she said. “So that’s a good thing but a sad thing — we hope the volunteers that we turned away are able to come back on another day.”

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It was just the first of many days required to ensure all kids in Edmonton wake up to presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Drop-in volunteer hours this year are Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There are two major tasks that Santas relies on volunteers for every year: gifting and bagging. Bagging is putting together packages for specific families, but most volunteers will be gifting.

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“They prepare packages based on our predetermined age and gender groups. We make sure every package has four things in it: a book, a stuffed animal and two toys,” Nordlund explained.

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“And one of those toys must be something they can play with immediately — it doesn’t take batteries, nobody has to put it together, there’s no adult supervision. There’s something they can play with right away on Christmas morning.”

Applications for drop-in volunteering can be found at the Santas website. You can fill it out and bring it in, or fill it in once you arrive at the warehouse to lend a hand.

“Basically it’s dropping in and if we’re not already full, we welcome you,” Nordlund said. “A reminder, you do have to be 16, we are a working warehouse. You can check out santasanonymous.ca and on the homepage it will have if we’re full or if we expect to have openings later during the day.”

The minimum age for volunteers is in place for every volunteering opportunity except on delivery weekend when things become a family affair. Delivery Weekend 2018 falls on Dec. 15 and 16.

“Everyone is welcome, it’s a great opportunity for families to come in and select the gifts that they are going to deliver and then make a day of it,” Nordlund said. “You can take one bag to deliver, you can take up to 15 bags to deliver!”

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You can donate unwrapped toys and books at locations including shopping centres, Superstore, Costco, Ikea, Toys “R’ Us and Canadian Tire. You can also make donations at the 630 CHED studio. Learn more at santasanonymous.ca and you can head down to the warehouse to volunteer on Saturday.

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