What started as a small holiday party to raise funds for a local charity has raised more than $17,000 in the past 13 years.
Linda and Greg Creaser have always enjoyed hosting friends and family at Christmas time, but they also wanted to support a good cause. By combining their holiday party with fundraising, they have raised thousands of dollars for Santas Anonymous.
“We host a Chinese auction, and friends and family — as well as local businesses — donate items, and we have always donated the money to Santas Anonymous,” said Linda Creaser, adding that in the past 13 years, they have raised $17,415.90 for Santas.
Parents of a grown son, the Creasers started their party off small, with auction items displayed and brown paper bags behind each item — guests bought tickets for 25 cents which they would put into the bag in the hopes of winning that item.
“That first year we raised $40 and it’s grown every year,” said Linda. “Santas is all about kids. We have never had to wake up on Christmas Day and worry about not having gifts to give to our kids and we don’t want anyone else to either.”
Linda said they approach people they know for auction items, and friends and family are encouraged to regift items for the auction as well.
This year’s auction brought together 52 people to bid on 260 items such as signed hockey jerseys from the Washington Capitals organization and jerseys donated by the recently closed Monashees.
“We had such wonderful support from local businesses,” said Linda.
The list is a long one, but Linda said special mention needs to go to Heartwood Homes, Valley Marine, Wires By Design, Lucas Auto Repairs, Apple Auto Glass, Fisher’s Hardware, Vernon Vintners, Vernon Veterinary Clinic, The Pup Stop, Casa De Mario’s Pizzaria, Longhorn Pub, Hillview, Kal Sports Bar, Old Dutch, Dairyland, Grimms Meats, Gorman Bros. and Brandt Tractor.
The Creasers’ total donation to Santas this year is $2,381, with $500 of that coming from Heartwood Homes.
Santas Anonymous treasurer Lydia Wainwright said the organization wouldn’t exist without the support of the community.
“This is huge,” said Wainwright. “To think of a family in the community that has been that committed to Santas for 13 years and that they do all of this behind the scenes is just amazing. We have rent to pay and other bills.
“Thanks to people like Linda and the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band (who do the pub crawl every year, raising funds for Santas), who have been committed to helping us.”
The money is also used to buy toys. When Target went out of business earlier this year, Santas Anonymous volunteers scooped up as many toys as they could at rock-bottom prices.
“We watch the sale flyers all year long so we can maximize our funds,” she said. “It’s all about the kids, to see the parents’ relief when they come in and pick out gifts for their children is so rewarding.”
Santas Anonymous provides gifts to needy children throughout the North Okanagan, not just at Christmas but for birthdays all year long, for ages birth to 12 years old.
Santas is now taking appointments for parents or caregivers to pick up gifts for their children. To make an appointment, call 250-542-4448.