AU grad delivers Christmas spirit to families in need through Santas Anonymous
AU alum Angel Benedict transforming her community one child at a time
By the time thousands of children in Edmonton are looking under the tree for their gifts, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous will have given Santa a hand in delivering toys, books, and stuffed animals to families in need around the city.
The Edmonton-based charity works with partners in the community, volunteers, and donors to spread holiday joy to families. Annually, they help out 20,000 children locally. It is important work that Angel Benedict (Bachelor of Professional Arts in Communication Studies ’11) is passionate about.
“I was coming to the end of my maternity leave and knew if I was going to be leaving my kids every day, I had to be doing something that made it worth it and made a real difference in my community,” said Benedict, executive director of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous.
Putting it together
When Benedict graduated from Athabasca University (AU) in 2011, it was her second educational experience. She took journalism right out of high school and the BPA program gave her an opportunity apply what she was learning to solve challenges in the not-for-profit world.
She had worked in a variety of positions in fund development and stakeholder engagement when the role with Santas Anonymous came up. She jumped at the opportunity to work with an organization that integrated so well with her own 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.”
Sharing the Christmas spirit
Solving challenges and making an impact is something that she does every day with Santas Anonymous. All the hard work though culminates on Christmas morning for 20,000 children in Edmonton.
This year, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous will give away:
- 20,000 children’s books
- 20,000 stuffed animals
- 40,000 toys
With help from:
- 3,000 volunteers who put in thousands of hours of work
- Only 3 full-time employees who often work from a 27,000-sq.-ft. warehouse
Based on the numbers alone, it’s clear that 630 CHED Santas Anonymous helps many families living on the fringes in the community. While some might see the toys as frivolous or a maybe nice extra, Benedict knows that these gifts ensure that a parent or caregiver can shift their focus—and budgets—to other necessities.
“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.”