Playing Elves at Santas Anonymous

Mack and I had signed up a little too late for last year’s Wrapping Tweetup, an annual event organized by Brittney to help Santas Anonymous for an evening. We made sure not to make the same mistake this year.

On Friday night, we headed to their warehouse just north of the City Centre Airport, a different location than when we volunteered two years ago. There were over a dozen people already there, busily wrapping gifts.

Santas Anonymous

The warehouse

We were assigned bagging duty – placing gifts for each household securely in a bag, then sorting it by location. Time flew by quickly, as it always seems to, and though the group made a small dent on the number packages bagged, the remaining tags were still too numerous to count, and of course, requests will continue to come in for the next few weeks.

Santas Anonymous

Mack bags a package

The need is mind boggling, and a reminder of how many families are less fortunate in our very community. And though Santas Anonymous has, thankfully, been providing this wonderful service in Edmonton for 55 years now, it is also stunning that they haven’t yet secured a permanent home to conduct their business (the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit, which will house Santas Anonymous, as well as other non-profit organizations, is not slated to be completed until 2013).

Santas Anonymous

Waiting to be delivered

If you’re looking to help out at the Santas Anonymous warehouse, click here. Or, there’s always the delivery days, December 18-19, 2010 – another very worthwhile experience. Thanks to Brittney for organizing this opportunity!

Volunteering with Santas Anonymous

Mack, always up for informal meet-ups with local Twitter-users, was all for an informal Tweetup at the Santas Anonymous warehouse tonight, and I was more than happy to pitch in myself.

We headed to the warehouse on the west end of the city, and after filling in a quick one-page application form, were led to the bagging room. My family and I have delivered presents for Santas Anonymous before, so the mounds of presents encased in garbage bags were a familiar sight to me, but this was my first time participating at an earlier stage.


Bagging room


Tags, divided into areas of the city

We were shown the bagging process – how to identify the number and ages of the children in the household, and how to properly secure the address tag to the bag – before being set loose. With holiday music playing in the background, it wasn’t a difficult or laborious task at all. The four of us in total who had shown up managed to get through quite a few tags, but as I remarked to Mack at the end of the night – we really could have just kept going. Between the “wrapping bees” outside, and knowing that the charity is still collecting toys, it is amazing to me that they will ever be ready for delivery day. The logistical challenges of collecting, sorting, wrapping and delivering thousands of toys just boggle my mind – but bravo to the organizers for pulling it off every year.


Mack and Diane hard at work

I think my family and I will be delivering presents again this year – after seeing a bit of what goes on behind the scenes, I’m even more excited to do so. If you want to join in on spreading Christmas cheer, check out the details on the Santas Anonymous website.