Letters from Santas: July 2016

Do you know what keeps Santas Anonymous busy throughout the year? Follow our “Letters from Santas” series to learn more about the people at the heart of Santas Anonymous, and why we love what we do.

July’s guest writer

SBThis month’s Letter from Santas is written by Robyn Byrne, who has filled a very special volunteer with Santas Anonymous since 2012. She’s our official bear wrangler! Robyn coordinates all of Santa Bear’s appearances throughout our community, and she’s always on the lookout for new opportunities.

If you’ve got an upcoming event, email us to find out if Santa Bear is available.

A few years ago, I was speaking to Christine Hewitt (the executive director of Santas Anonymous) while we were at Victoria’s Largest Little Airshow, and we got onto the topic of mascots. She told me that Santas Anonymous had a mascot, but he only came out of hibernation for parades. And then she asked if I’d like to help her get that mascot more involved in our community.

You bet I would!

Since that day, I’ve had what I consider to be a ‘dream’ volunteer position with Santas Anonymous, working with a big, cuddly, overstuffed teddy that goes by the name of Santa Bear.

In a few short years, Santa Bear has added a lot more than just parades to his schedule; we go to everything from marathons and community picnics to toy drives and sporting events. In fact, last year Santa Bear and I attended over 60 events. He’s a very popular bear! Unfortunately, we can’t make to everything (bears need a lot of sleep), but we do our best to attend any event that supports local kids or raises money for charity. We also spend a lot of time with good friends such as Ace the Police Dog and Marty the Marmot.

Santa Bear is a bit unruly at times, but mostly he’s a big ball of fuzziness just waiting to give hugs. And he wants everyone to know that Santas Anonymous is working year-round to help children and families in need. Kids come running as soon as they see him, and while they might know he represents Santas Anonymous, their parents sure do.

So when can you see Santa Bear next? Well, how about at the place where I first learned of him? As always, Santa Bear will be at Victoria’s Largest Little Airshow on August 13-14, along with a contingent of Santas Anonymous volunteers.

As someone who works with both organizations, I’m really proud of the strong relationship between the airshow and Santas Anonymous. Thousands of people have attended the airshow over the years, leading to over $120,000 in donations for Santas Anonymous. Last year, Santa Bear even got to fly one of the model airplanes, which is hard to do with paws. But I think he’s got it figured out.

It’s hard for most people to hold a conversation with Santa Bear, since he can’t talk back to them…and I guess that’s why always they’re so glad to talk to me. They’ll thank us for being there, and say how grateful they are for Santas Anonymous. Sometimes they’ll tell me about the time they received a Christmas hamper, or the fantastic playground that Santas Anonymous helped build.

This is what makes volunteering for Santas Anonymous so rewarding—knowing I’m supporting a cause that really makes a difference in so many people’s lives.

And hanging out with one of the coolest bears in town is pretty special too.

Robyn Byrne
Bear Wrangler

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