VICTORIA -- CFAX Santas Anonymous has built a brand-new website to help support local families this holiday season.

Because of COVID-19, the annual Tree of Wishes fundraiser is not taking place at local shopping centres this year. Instead, Santas Anonymous has created an online “full-service centre” that allows families in need to apply for gifts and food hampers, and for donors to choose what they would like to donate.

“What we’ve had to do is pivot with technology in order to keep everyone safe,” said Christine Hewitt, executive director of the CFAX Santas Anonymous Society.

This year, donors can visit the CFAX Santas Anonymous website and find gift options for children of different age groups, ranging from infants to teens.

Donors can then choose which gift they would like to donate, and then a Santas Anonymous volunteer will purchase and deliver the gift around the holiday season.

Hewitt says that Santas Anonymous analysts reviewed which toys were most popular in 2019 and 2020 and put together an average price for the gifts.

Donors will also receive a receipt and printable ornament to hang on their own Christmas tree or to give as a gift. Donors will also be provided with a link that can be shared on social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – that lists which toy that bought and encourages others to do the same.

Besides gifts, donors can also purchase food hampers for families, something Hewitt says is especially needed during the holiday season when children are out of school.

The charitable society says that many youth in need rely on the school system for breakfasts, snacks and lunches. When school is off for the season, there is a “food gap” in many households. Purchasing hampers for local families will help ensure that children in Greater Victoria have access to nutritious meals around the holidays.

Hewitt adds that all toys and groceries purchased by CFAX Santas Anonymous are bought at local businesses, “to put that donor dollar right back into the economy.”

Any family that is looking to receive a food hamper or gift this holiday season can register on the CFAX Santas Anonymous website.

Anyone looking to volunteer with the organization can also sign up for events or shifts at the same link.

Since the website opened with a soft launch last week, more than 622 children have been registered to receive a gift in Victoria.

“Our ability to give has been hampered by COVID so every little bit helps,” said Hewitt.

“We’re hoping for a successful Miracle on Broad Street this year.”

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