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.
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.
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.
“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.
“It all, in the end, is for the kids.”
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.
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