Santa Bear with his BBF

Santa Bear earns top volunteer award for Santas Anonymous

Santa Bear and Robin Byrne topped the list as CFAX Santas Anonymous recognized its annual Volunteer of the Year

When it came time for one of the region’s biggest volunteer agencies to recognize its annual top volunteer this year, the nomination process got a little fuzzy.

With so many of CFAX Santas Anonymous’ 400 worthy volunteers to choose from, it makes the tradition of honouring a worthy volunteer each year a challenging one.

And yet, this year’s pick, or picks, were staring the selectors in the eyes in the form of the organization’s locally famous mascot.

“We had to go with Santa Bear and his BBF, or Beary Best Friend, Robyn Byrne,” said Santas Anonymous executive director Christine Hewitt during national Volunteer Week, April 10 to 16.

Santa Bear is one of the busiest mascots in town, high fiving all year round. And Byrne can be spotted everywhere Santa Bear is. That’s why the popular Victoria pair were acknowledged together on a Feb. 14 ceremony in which they were presented a recognition plaque.

“Santa Bear works year-round representing CFAX Santas Anonymous Society and the work the society does,” Hewitt said. “Everywhere a CFAX Santas event is held or a community event where children might be, Santa Bear is there to shake a hand, offer a hug or a high five.”

True to the mascot code, Santa Bear needs a helper to communicate for him and  Byrne does that, and so much more, Hewitt added.

Byrne designed, implemented and maintains Santa Bear’s social media presence and is always open to new escapades such as mini commercials for events and acts as Santa Bear’s main videographer.

Currently Saanich based, CFAX Santas Anonymous Society is celebrating its 39th year as a local children’s charity that works year-round.

A 14-member volunteer board of directors approves special grants aimed at enhancing the lives of children by supporting numerous local programs. Since 2002, Santas has subsidized summer camps, specialized therapies for children, playgrounds, hospital activity kits, mental health education and families facing crisis with over $1.8 million in support.

It’s much more than the initiative it’s named for, which is to anonymously provide families with groceries and children’s presents at Christmas time.

“This is an organization that is 99 per cent volunteer driven, with more than 400  volunteers working over 10,000 hours to administer the Christmas program alone,” said Hewitt, the lone employee for Santas.

Recognitions were also presented to Michael Bath, Kerry Frazer, Lynda Clarke, Lester Chan and Bronwen LeBlanc.



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