630 CHED Santas Anonymous sees another successful delivery campaign

Click to play video: 'Delivery weekend begins for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous'
Delivery weekend begins for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous
WATCH ABOVE: This weekend toys will be delivered to thousands of children in Edmonton as part of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous. While delivery day looks different this year because of the pandemic, it's just as special. Nicole Stillger has more – Dec 12, 2020

Hundreds of volunteers, thousands of drivers, countless pivots due to one pandemic and more than 20,000 toys. The delivery campaign for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous finished Sunday afternoon, wrapping up another successful season for the charity.

Lana Nordlund, the executive director of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, said that while this year was a different experience due to the COVID-19 precautions, volunteers were ready to step up and get the gifts out safely.

“The way that the toys are getting to the children are a little bit different,” Nordlund said. “We have a higher number of home deliveries and less through agencies that we assist.

“So the number [of deliveries] is still the same, but knowing there is more people out there that are seeking the assistance — it’s gratifying that we’re able to help them, but it’s also sad that it’s required.”
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Nordlund said about half the deliveries went out to families on Saturday and the rest were sent out Sunday.

The charity had to make a number of changes throughout the campaign, including for delivery days. While a normal year sees volunteers lining up outside the depot in the wee hours of the morning for a chance to deliver toys, this year all drivers and depot volunteers had to pre-register to help out over the weekend.

Click to play video: '$20,000 in toys donated to Santas Anonymous in memory of Edmonton woman'
$20,000 in toys donated to Santas Anonymous in memory of Edmonton woman

But Edmonton showed up once again. Just days after registration was opened for delivery drivers, all the slots were filled. When dozens of porters were needed a week before delivery days, those slots quickly filled up too.

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“We’d like to thank everybody out there in the community,” Nordlund said Sunday afternoon. “Whether you shared a post on social media, you signed up to volunteer, you made a donation, you dropped off a toy, you sent us love — it doesn’t mater.

Volunteers helping get gift packages ready to be delivered as part of the 630 CHED Santas Anonymous campaign on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. Kirby Bourne / 630 CHED

Rather than lining up outside the depot, toys were taken out for delivery using a curbside pickup system. Nordlund and other Santas staff spent weeks figuring out how to make the system work.

“It’s been a unique experience this year, and we’re not sure what it’s going to look like next year,” Nordlund said. “If there’s COVID or if there isn’t COVID — we’re still not sure. It’s been a different experience — [next year] may be a hybrid of what we’ve done in the past and what we’re doing now.”
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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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santas and the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton had to cancel walk in days. Still, the charity saw an increase in need over 2019.

Santas is still collecting donations to help pay off some of the toys it purchased this year to beef up its gift supply.

“Our suppliers are being very kind to us — they know they’re not going to get paid until January, so we are still looking to monetary donations to pay for those toys,” Nordlund said.

Edmontonians can still donate to the campaign online. 

–With files from Allison Bench, Global News

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