It’s been a bittersweet year for the North Okanagan Santas Anonymous Society.
The non-profit is mourning the loss of one of its founding members, Judy Mallet, who died in October.
Perry Wainwright, the society’s president, said Judy was “a force” on the annual toy run that collects Christmas gifts for local children in need around the holidays.
He says she would have been heartened by the outpouring of gifts from community donors this year.
“They’ve been phenomenal this year. I guess people aren’t going anywhere and they want to do what they can locally, so our toy totals have been quite good this year.”
Santas Anonymous collects toys for underprivileged North Okanagan kids each year, and the society is now in its 32nd Christmas season.
Wainwright said folks have been completely cooperative when it comes to wearing masks and following COVID-19 protocols when dropping off or picking up gifts.
He and longtime Santas Anonymous member Linda Creaser also managed to bring in $2,200 from their annual fundraiser, bringing the total amount raised since 2003 to $28,000.
“This year a lot of the fundraising was done online where Heartwood Homes a regular donor, and new this year, Creaser Construction donated generously to Santas,” Wainwright said.
Toys can still be donated until Tuesday morning, when the toy run winds down. Those who find themselves struggling this Christmas amid COVID-19 can also still sign up to receive a gift.
“We’ll keep checking the phone,” Wainwright said. “Thank you to the Vernon community for supporting us the way you have.”
The society is open by appointment for Christmas and birthday gifts for underprivileged children in the North Okanagan ages 12 and under. Parents must bring their child’s care card with them. Donations can be dropped off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at #2, 4320 29th Street.
For more information and a list of contributing businesses to this year’s toy run, visit santasanonymousnok.ca.