By MO CRANKER on September 16, 2020.
The Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund could see record levels of usage this year and is looking for creative ways to fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual Toy Run took place this past weekend, with riders encouraged to participate in small groups due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Obviously things looked very different this year compared to last,” said executive director Deanna Doerksen. “Instead of having everyone meet at Irvine and ride to the Stampede Grounds, we had requested individual or group rides. We had people drop off their toys directly to the Holiday Home and it was a great success.
“The Irvine Hotel held their pancake breakfast and raised over $2,000. We’re grateful for the support.”
Doerksen says around 400 individual riders stopped by the Holiday Home to drop off a toy.
“We are so thankful for the dedication and commitment for the Toy Run committee and all of the riders,” she added. “It was great to feel the spirit of the day and to feel the community rallying for our organization.”
Financially, the Toy Run is down, with the biggest gap being in toy donations.
“People were generous and donated cash when they could,” said Doerksen. “Toy donations are down about 75 per cent from previous years.”
The SCF served Christmas to more than 1,200 Hat children last year and is expecting to have to meet that demand, or exceed it this Holiday Season.
Doerksen says the goal will be to leave no child without Christmas this year, even if things work differently than other seasons.
“We’re working to creative with how we get toys,” she said. “We know a lot of people are not in the position to give this year, but we do not plan to turn anyone down.
“Every child deserves Christmas and we plan on making that a reality.”
The annual 50/50 draw hit new highs this year. It was announced recently that it had reached $20,000, meaning the lucky winner would take home $10,000.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “This was the first time we ever attempted to do this online, and it really exceeded our expectations. The most we had ever done for a draw was just shy of $3,800.
“We sold out this year online and half of that $20,000 will go to us.”
The official 50/50 draw will take place online Friday on the Santa Claus Fund’s Facebook page.
Doerksen says how people get their gifts and hampers will be different this year, but that is still being finalized by the SCF board.
“We have to keep everyone safe,” she said.
This year families will apply for gifts and volunteers will help get them ready for the family to safely pick up.
The SCF’s biggest focus and need this year is toys and games for kids 0-12. Toys for all genders are needed. Things like sporting equipment, board games and any other kind of toy is needed.
“We will gratefully take anything,” said Doerksen.
If people would like to donate toys to the cause, Badlands Harley Davidson is a drop-off point, and will accept toys during its business hours.