Letters from Santas: April 2017

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.

It’s National Volunteer Week!

This month’s Letter from Santas is coming out a bit later than usual to coincide with National Volunteer Week from April 23-29. But it’s worth the wait, because instead of just one guest writer, we have two.

We started by posing a simple question to Christine Hewitt, our executive director: “what keeps our long-time volunteers coming back?”

Here’s what she told us:

Why do Santas Anonymous volunteers keep coming back? Family is the key!

Many Santas Anonymous volunteers donate their time because of the sense of family we get from within our organization—a feeling that has kept some of our longest-serving volunteers coming back to serve our Christmas Hamper program for over 30 years. We get it from the close friendship between volunteers in our workshop, where we spend weeks and weeks preparing hampers. We get it from talking with people at our Tree of Wishes displays, and helping them decide how they’ll donate. And we get it from the smiles of the parents and children who come to our warehouse to pick up their hampers.

Our volunteers love that we treat everyone—including our recipients, donors, and sponsors—like we’re all one big family. Once you experience it, it’s hard not to come back for more!

Now that you’ve heard from our executive director, let’s look at it from the other side of the coin. Susan Czypyha, who volunteers in our workshop as a wrapper, wrote in to tell us how she got her start with Santas Anonymous:

My husband and I moved to Victoria from London, Ontario, in September 2015. I joined Newcomers of Greater Victoria in October that same year, and immediately got involved with the fundraising committee. Newcomers was raising funds for Santas Anonymous, and I was one of two people who took our donation to the Miracle on Broad Street radio-thon in December. While talking to staff at Miracle, I discovered that Santas Anonymous was looking for volunteers to wrap gifts in the workshop and quickly signed up.

We are here to be closer to our kids…one in Victoria and one in Vancouver…and their families. We don’t tend to buy the number of gifts we used to buy, as we now see more value in the time we spend together (and we just don’t need so much anymore). I signed up for wrapping because I enjoy it, have time to spare, and see it as a great way to meet new people and feel like part of the community.

The generosity of the people of Victoria is amazing, and I am sure there are lots of smiling faces on Christmas morning amongst the families we help. There is a lot of work done at the workshop, but at the same time there is a feeling of camaraderie and good will. I hope to be part of it again next year.

We say it often, and we’ll say it many more times in the future: without our volunteers, CFAX Santas Anonymous Society wouldn’t be nearly the success we are today. We’re grateful to everyone who’s part of our family, and everyone who has donated their time and effort to a cause they care about.

Thanks to Christine and Susan for sharing their thoughts and helping us to celebrate National Volunteer Week!

 

Learn more about National Volunteer Week at volunteer.ca.

 

Letters from Santas: March 2017

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.

The year in review

Spring is just around the corner, and after a surprisingly harsh winter in Victoria it’s not a moment too soon! We’re looking forward to a busy summer at Santas Anonymous, and you’ll hear lots more about our activities over the coming months. But before we do that, let’s celebrate a full year of Letters from Santas! Continue reading »

Letters from Santas: February 2017

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.

February’s guest writer

It’s February 2017, and we’re bringing all of our volunteers from 2016 back to the workshop for our annual volunteer-appreciation party. With this in mind, we’ve asked Ryan Price to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what’s to come.

Ryan has been on air with CFAX 1070 since 2005, and is currently the station’s News Director and Morning Anchor. He joined the Santas Anonymous Board of Directors in 2011, and recently stepped up to become our current president. Continue reading »

Letters from Santas: January 2017

Remembering Lawrie Smith

Lawrie and Jacki SmithThis month’s letter is dedicated to the memory of Lawrie Smith, who passed away on January 1st, 2017, after battling ALS for over a year.

Lawrie will be remembered by everyone at Santas Anonymous for his generous spirit, warm heart, and thoughtful leadership. In our December Letter from Santas, he wrote about how lucky he was to be “part of such a marvelous adventure”.

In the years to come, Laurie’s impact will be felt throughout our operations, from the way we do certain things to the family members who have taken up his cause.

Santas Anonymous would not be what it is today without people like Lawrie Smith, and we will never forget him.

Continue reading »

Happy holidays!

Our Christmas hampers have been collected by local families in need, ensuring that they’ll have food for the holidays and gifts to be opened on Christmas Day. Our work is done, and our 2016 hamper program draws to a close.

We’re grateful for the thousands of donors and supporters in our community. Thank you for helping us serve more families than ever and raise a record sum of $579,370 during our Miracle on Broad Street radiothon. Your continued support inspires us to do more every year.

We’re grateful to our local firefighters, who delivered hampers all over Greater Victoria. Thank you for reminding us of all the brave people in emergency services working on behalf of our community every day.

And we are grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who put in countless hours over the past year. You volunteered in shopping centres, wrapped gifts in our workshop, and packed groceries in our warehouse. You organized events, coordinated operations, and kept this giant machine running smoothly. And when families came to our warehouse to pick up their hampers, you greeted them with smiles, entertained the children, and brightened their spirits for the days ahead. Thank you for the energy and enthusiasm you bring to Santas Anonymous and the people we serve.

Working together, we made this holiday season better for hundreds of families in Greater Victoria. More importantly, we let them know that they are not alone. Thank you all for making a difference in our community. We couldn’t do this without you.

From all of us at CFAX Santas Anonymous, happy holidays and best wishes for 2017.