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‘It created who I am’: Edmontonians share personal impact of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Click to play video: 'Santas Day encourages Edmontonians to give cash donations to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous' Santas Day encourages Edmontonians to give cash donations to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous
Tuesday is Santas Day, in support of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous. The charity needs cash donations more than ever because of difficulties around taking toy donations. CHED is holding a radiothon to ensure every child receives a new toy at Christmas. Morgan Black explains the impact the organization has had on one Edmonton father – Dec 1, 2020

For 65 years, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous has made the holidays brighter for many families in the Edmonton area.

Nicole Middleton still remembers the day Santas Anonymous volunteers visited her home when she was just eight years old.

“I remember that a man came to the door with a box. The gifts were wrapped and it was a full box. We were shocked someone would bring presents by,” she said. “My mom thanked the gentleman. She was crying. We didn’t understand why.”

Read more: Santas Day raises $283,690 in support of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Middleton had five brothers and one sister and her mother was an emergency foster caregiver. She said money was particularly tight that year.

“To have a gift on Christmas day… you don’t expect it. It’s kind and it affected me for the rest of my life.”

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Click to play video: '630 CHED Santas Anonymous updates on how the campaign is going' 630 CHED Santas Anonymous updates on how the campaign is going
630 CHED Santas Anonymous updates on how the campaign is going – Nov 15, 2020

Middleton also remembers opening her gift on Christmas morning: a princess lamp.

“It really personified finding light. That is wasn’t about stuff. It was about family,” she said.

“[That moment…] was the foundation to who I became. Santas Anonymous definitely created who I am.”

She has donated and volunteered for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous frequently. Her two children, Michael and Arthur, also volunteer.

Read more: Sherwood Park Cub Scout collects more than $15K worth of toys for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

“Now I get to hear stories about the families we helped. It’s pretty impactful,” she said.

Click to play video: '630 CHED Santas Anonymous needs donations' 630 CHED Santas Anonymous needs donations
630 CHED Santas Anonymous needs donations – Dec 1, 2020

Santas Anonymous helped Edmonton dad Blair Barton in 2011 and again in 2016.

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“The stress as a parent… not being able to provide at Christmas can almost kill you,” Barton said.

LISTEN BELOW: Nicole Middleton shares her story of receiving a present from 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Barton had moved to Edmonton to work as a crane operator. He said he’d been making good money until the economy soured and he was laid off.

“My life turned into a country western song… I lost the jeep, lost the dog, lost the house and the kids and I found myself in the position where I needed help,” he said. “You think you’re never going to be in that boat and that’s why this organization is there.”

Read more: 630 CHED Santas Anonymous opens for season with new COVID-19 protocols

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At first, he was hesitant to reach out to Santas Anonymous.

“I was embarrassed. I always thought these things were meant for people who ‘needed it.’

“So, if I need it, then that means I’m one of those people,” he said. “It hits you in your heart and soul. It makes you feel special to know people want to help you.”

Barton began volunteering the same year he first reached out for help and remains a dedicated “elf” to this day.

Blair Barton during a volunteer session for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous. Courtesy: Blair Barton

“When you walk in the building… there’s a sense of love. I’m not trying to sound corny,” he laughed. “When you walk in, you feel uplifted. It doesn’t matter how bad your day is going.”

If you would like to register to receive gifts, the deadline to apply is Dec. 4.

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“People should not feel bad about using [630 CHED Santas Anonymous]. That’s what it’s there for,” Barton said.

On Tuesday, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous will be the focus on air for 630 CHED as the station looks to raise money to ensure every child has a gift under the tree this year.

You can donate to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous by calling 587-855-1821 or online here.

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