The Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund Toy Run will have a different look due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but supporters can still give back in two different ways, with a chance to cash in for up to $10,000.
On top of holding a virtual Toy Run – in which riders are encouraged to take a solo drive around town before bringing their toys to the Santa Claus Holiday Home at 3078 Dunmore Rd., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday – the Santa Claus Fund has also kicked off an online 50/50 fundraiser with tickets on sale through the week.
“Obviously our fundraising efforts are going to have to look a little bit different and we’re trying to think outside the box,” said Santa Claus Fund executive director Deanna Doerksen. “We watched the success that the Edmonton Oilers had with their 50/50 and we just thought we wanted to try and get on that bandwagon. We’re just trying to think of innovative ways that we can raise funds and toys to support our local families.”
The Santa Claus Fund provides toys and a full Christmas dinner to low-income families with children up to 17 years old each Christmas. Doerksen says the funds raised from both events will go toward ensuring that Merry Christmas for everyone.
“We provide two gifts for each child, as well as a stuffed animal and then a board game per family because we believe it’s important for families to play together,” said Doerksen. “Each child also receives a book from our bookshelf, which was donated by CIBC Wood-Gundy, and then each family will receive a voucher to purchase a Christmas meal locally.”
The 50/50 fundraiser was up past $2,300 as of Thursday afternoon, with a maximum of $20,000, and a $10,000 payout. The winner will be announced Sept. 18, while tickets can be purchased at rafflebox.ca/raffle/mhnsc until Monday afternoon, or until they sell out.
“In a perfect world, that’s what we hope to happen,” said Doerksen. “We hope to get approved to do a larger 50/50 at Christmas time.”
As for Saturday’s virtual Toy Run, promotional director Heather McCaig says participants will be encouraged to take photos of their ride and post them to the Santa Claus Fund Toy Run’s Facebook page. Those unable to make it to the Santa Claus Holiday Home on Saturday can still participate by bringing toys to Badlands Harley Davidson.
“What we’re asking riders to do is to put the toys on their bike, go for a ride, take some pictures and then bring them into the Holiday Home and drop them off for the kids,” said McCaig.
McCaig says COVID-19 has pushed the Santa Claus Fund into a difficult position, with the challenging economic climate dealing a blow to fundraising while increasing the number of families served over the Holiday Season. As a result, a strong showing at both events will go a long way to helping meet the increased demand.
“Last year we serviced over 1,200 kids with the Santa Claus Fund at Christmas time,” said McCaig. “We know the need is going to be larger this year so we’re really hoping that we have a large number from the community that come out and give us support.”
Saturday will also feature a pancake breakfast at the Irvine Hotel, from 9-11 a.m., with proceeds going to the Santa Claus Fund. The Royal will also be hosting a fundraising event for the Santa Claus Fund on Saturday afternoon.