Edmontonians donated $132,000-worth of toys and around $161,460 in cash.
All day, 630 CHED was broadcasting live at Santa’s Depot, raising money to ensure every child has a toy under the tree this Christmas.
The deadline to request a toy bundle from Santas Anonymous was Tuesday. Benedict said overall, signups have increased by 37 per cent and the number of infants in need of a toy bundle has tripled.
“We kind of knew it was coming with high inflation after a couple of years of uncertainty,” said Benedict.
“We’re not at record numbers just yet, but we are definitely seeing an increase that we haven’t seen since probably the early 2000s.”
Gertie Goeneweg has been volunteering for 50 years. She said the people are what keep her coming back.
“The social atmosphere of it, the drivers that come out year after year, the new people who come in and say, ‘I didn’t know that this was here and that we could help people this way’,” said Goeneweg.
“It’s people, people loving people taking care of people.”
LISTEN: Gertie Goeneweg talks about the beginnings of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous with J’lyn Nye
Mike Heathcote and his two kids, seven-year-old Ryan and Hayley, 11, sold some of their less-used toys and bought new toys to donate to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous.
“It was kind of tough, saying, ‘Oh, I played with this stuff when I was four years old’. But then I thought, ‘It’s all going to a good cause, so it’s kind of good to give these away,'” said Hayley.
LISTEN: Edmonton family shares their way of giving back to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous
The family volunteers each year, delivering toys. Mike told a story about dropping off bundles last Christmas: they were on a delivery and a mom with a baby on her hip opened the door.
“This part always chokes me up, but peeking around the corner is this little six- or seven-year-old boy, couldn’t be much older than Ryan. He’s kind of got these suspicious eyes as he creeps around the side and he sees all four of us with a big bag of toys and the kid just explodes,” he said.
“His hands clamped over his face. He’s jumping up and down, is crying, screaming. He’s just beside himself. And he suddenly realizes how Christmas happens.”
Trevor Boller joined Daryl McIntyre and Chelsea Bird on 630 CHED Mornings. He shared how he received toys from 630 CHED Santas Anonymous for his children when he was going through a tough time many years ago.
“The money wasn’t coming in and we had some hard times there and I had to humble myself and go and apply for like social assistance,” he said.
“You go in the office and you’re looking around and you go, ‘Oh, I don’t belong here’. I was just working for the government for a few years and having nice paychecks come in and look at me right now, desperate,” Boller explained.
FULL INTERVIEW: Edmontonian shares his story of being a recipient of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous with Daryl McIntyre and Chelsea Bird
You can still donate money and sign up for volunteer shifts on the Santas Anonymous website.