Every December, SantaYEG and his volunteers try to bring some holiday cheer to people who might otherwise be struggling.
This year, founder Jeff Tetz gathered donations to purchase 20 $500 VISA gift cards for families who needed a boost.
He asked the community to nominate people who’ve had a bleak year – maybe they lost their job or a loved one, or are just stretched thin trying to make ends meet.
The group received 75 nominations and from those, selected 20 to receive the gift cards as part of Delivering Compassion YEG Day.
Tetz wanted to make sure the presents were a surprise.
“We phoned the recipients this morning and we told them they were receiving a tiny little cheese and nut basket from a fictitious craft store in Stony Plain,” he explained.
Then, he showed up at their doorsteps with a gift card in hand, and a note from SantaYEG explaining what the group is all about.
“We’re trying to deliver some compassion and kindness around the holidays to people who might be a little more down on their luck than normal.”
And were they ever surprised. Single mom Ashley Taylor was in total shock when Tetz told her what was happening.
“I am very excited and I feel really happy that others are doing these types of things to help bring a little bit of comfort and extra cheer to people who have a hard time achieving it,” she said.
Taylor explained that the gesture made her day and made the holidays for her children.
“It means my kids are going to wake up Christmas morning with a smile on their face and be excited to have the things under the tree I couldn’t normally have for them.”
For volunteer Stacey Brotzel, selecting recipients from all the nominees was challenging. But delivering the gift card would make it worthwhile.
“2020’s been a pretty crappy year and this is going to bring light to her life and certainly bring some light to 2020 for me as well. Just to see the look on their faces,” she said.
“We’re all isolated and maybe we forget that people care. People care about you.”
In addition to the gift card giveaway, Tetz and his team also blitzed drive throughs, buying meals for the strangers behind them in hopes they might pay it forward.
Tanner Smith was one of those lucky drivers Friday afternoon.
“Feels good, a lot of people do need help – especially during this time – Christmas, the holiday and stuff. I’m going to pay it back sometime today too,” he said.
Tetz launched Delivering Compassion YEG Day in 2019, when he found SantaYEG had more volunteers than it needed.
He encouraged people to just take up random acts of kindness on their own, and share it on social media with the hashtag #DeliveringCompassionYEG.
Tetz wasn’t sure how the movement would be received during the pandemic but was pleasantly surprised.
“People are embracing it and buying people coffees and gift cards and lunch, all kinds of stuff.
“It’s amazing to watch the generous spirit that resides in the heart of Edmontonians,” he said.
“I hope it encourages and inspires other people to do their own charitable initiatives, to volunteer for other organizations, to start their own.”