Creating More Magical Christmas Mornings

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Charity Spotlight: This blog post was provided by Santas Angels PEI, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

Our magical Christmas tradition began back in 2004. One of our founders, Kenny Zakem and a friend dressed up as Santa Claus and started knocking on doors in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, trying to find homes that could use some toys leftover from a fundraiser held earlier that year. They were overwhelmed by the responses they received and the happiness in every home that accepted the toys.

That magical morning sparked and grew into the incredible operation now called Santa’s Angels. While our focus is to make Christmas morning special, we spend the entire year fundraising and planning for the Christmas ahead. Our team is made up of over 100 volunteers and includes eight marvellous Santa’s who visit hundreds of houses and thousands of kids and adults on Christmas morning. With each visit, we bring a bag full of gifts, goodies and food for the family.

At Santa’s Angels, we ensure that everyone in our delivery area who asks for help will get a visit. Of course, we try to find those that need a visit most and we also have a dedicated team of shoppers who try to bring what people ask for. Requests might include Ninja Turtles, toy trucks, Barbie dolls, or diapers for little ones, but some of our most common requests are  for books, mittens, socks, boxes of chocolate, and winter coats. We set up an online form where families can make a request for a visit, or individuals can nominate someone else to receive a surprise visit. To make sure we don’t miss anyone, we also have a dedicated phone line for those who do not have access to the online form.

We are blessed to be able to bring gifts and spread joy to those who are struggling financially or having a difficult time. We hear from many people in a variety of circumstances. We’re often asked for some toys because mom or dad aren’t able to afford toys this year. Other times, a death in the family has brought sadness, so a home visit from Santa is all the little ones need to brighten their day. Some households just need blankets to keep warm since they couldn’t keep up with their electric bill, while others don’t have enough to afford a Christmas tree, let alone gifts underneath. One young girl nominated an elderly woman who worked at the local Walmart who would otherwise have spent Christmas alone. We answer all of these requests, arriving with gifts, necessities, and Santa in tow.

One year we received a letter from a single mother; all she wanted was for her young daughters to experience the magic of Christmas. Although she knew Christmas shouldn’t be focused on material things, she wished she could give them even a single gift. Her eldest had been dreaming about learning to play the guitar and her mum asked if we ever receive old, broken or donated instrument—something they could fix or string on their own. At the time, we didn’t have any guitars but we assured her we’d find something else her daughter would enjoy. In a wonderful twist of fate, one of our young volunteers who read her letter actually owned a bright red guitar in perfect condition. She decided instantly to donate her guitar to give that young girl a magical gift on Christmas morning. The moment Santa handed her that guitar was an unforgettable one, for all of us. Even more magically, this volunteer was actually a recipient of Santa’s Angels a decade ago.

At it’s core, what we do is a project of love. We connect our community together. We give for the sake of giving. We dedicate our Christmas day to uplifting others and it is the most rewarding experience for us. It reminds us all what this time of year is truly about.

To learn more about Santas Angels PEI, or to make a donation, please visit their Charity Profile Page.

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