The Hub Grad appeals to community to deliver Christmas spirit through toy donations

Grad appeals to community to deliver Christmas spirit through toy donations

By: AU Staff

Athabasca University alum Angel Benedict says donations to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous down 40% compared to last year

Every December, Angel Benedict (Bachelor of Professional Arts, Communication Studies Major  ’11) gets to spread the Christmas spirit to children in need thanks to the generosity of Albertans.

As executive director of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, Benedict oversees a massive community effort to collect and distribute donations of new, unwrapped toys. But unlike most years, the Edmonton-based charity is seeing a steep 40% decline in donations.

“It’s hard to say why donations are down, but honestly some of the feedback we’ve received is that the weather has made it difficult for many to think about Christmas this year,” said Benedict. “It just seems like it’s months away, not weeks.”

Short on toys for infants, nine- and 12-year-olds

One thing Benedict is sure about is that the decline in donations threatens the charity’s ability to deliver their usual haul of toys to 20,000 children in Edmonton. Typically, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous gives away 40,000 toys, 20,000 children’s books, and 20,000 stuffed animals.

“What we’re really in need of right now are toys for infants, one-year-olds, and nine- to 12-year-old kids. We’re actually down to our final bins for those age categories at the moment,” Benedict said.

From journalism to the non-profit sector

Benedict joined 630 CHED Santas Anonymous after graduating from AU.  She had taken journalism right out of high school and the Bachelor of Professional Arts program allowed her to apply what she was learning to solve challenges in the not-for-profit world.

She jumped at the opportunity to work with an organization that integrated with her values.

“I’ve always been interested in grassroots organizations, especially those that give back within the local community for social causes,” she said. “All of my previous roles, experiences, and education aligned in a great way.”

It takes a community of volunteers and partners

Founded more than 60 years ago, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous is a small charity with just a handful of full-time staff. The organization relies on the support of corporate partners and the more than 3,000 volunteers who give their time working out of a 27,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.

While some might see the toys as frivolous or not essential, Benedict said these gifts ensure that a parent or caregiver can shift their focus and budgets to other necessities—all of which have gone up due to inflation.

“Instead of having to worry about what they’re going to put under the tree, that parent or caregiver can put food on the table or keep the lights on,” she said.

“We are here to let the community know that we care. That there are a lot of other Edmontonians who care and want to help where we can.”

Watch: AU grad spreads holiday joy

Learn more about 630 CHED Santas Anonymous and how to donate.

  • December 6, 2023
Guest Blog from:
AU Staff