Santa Bear is a visible icon for Santas Anonymous, the Greater Victoria charitable organization that is celebrating its 40th year in 2017. Courtesy Santas Anonymous

Santa Bear is a visible icon for Santas Anonymous, the Greater Victoria charitable organization that is celebrating its 40th year in 2017. Courtesy Santas Anonymous

Santas Anonymous broadening its scope in Greater Victoria

Organization hosts its annual Miracle on Broad Street fundraiser this Friday

A charitable organization marking its 40th year of working with children and families in Greater Victoria expects to help more than 1,500 families, a task made more difficult with donations down so far from 2016.

Santas Anonymous, a non-profit group whose 420 volunteers logged 19,000 hours last year, expects to touch the lives of close to 6,000 people this year, including more than 3,600 children, says executive director Christine Hewitt.

“Santas has started to take a larger role, ” she says, adding that the group has added 100 families a year to its programs since 2011. “With 40 years in the community, it’s an exciting time and a time when we’ve made significant changes to the way we [work within] the community.”

Having had its beginnings in providing toys to children in families in need, Santas has broadened its scope over the years to include a busy special grant program.

Since 2002, it has handed out approximately $1.9 million to community groups, and that’s outside of its Christmas toys and grocery hamper activities. A smaller amount of donations could affect how much work they can do in the community next year, Hewitt says.

The organization is part of a Victoria-wide group known as the Christmas Giving Network. It also includes the Salvation Army, Mustard Seed, Sooke and Sidney food banks, St. Vincent de Paul and other community agencies, which together receive in the area of 12,000 household applications for help around Christmastime.

Part of the increasing caseload for Santas comes from the fact it has taken on a certain amount of the kids and families toys distribution from those other organizations, so they can help singles and focus more on their core area of assistance.

Santas Anonymous, together with its media partners CFAX radio and CTV, is hosting the annual Miracle on Broad Street this Friday (Dec. 8) from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fundraiser brought in $585,000 in 2016 and Hewitt is hopeful for this year.

“If we come even remotely close to last year we’ll be thrilled,” she says.

For more information on donating or applying for a hamper, visit cfaxsantas.com.

editor@vicnews.com

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