Edmonton elves deliver donated gifts to 9,000 families

Thousands of Edmontonians volunteered for the annual Santas Anonymous charity event this weekend, delivering gifts to more than 24,000 children.

Thousands of volunteers take part in 62nd annual Santas Anonymous gift drive for children in need

Thousands of volunteers delivered donated toys to Edmonton families on Saturday. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

Eight-year-old Sophie Favret took the weekend off from Santa's workshop to help deliver donated toys to families in Edmonton.

"I work at the North Pole," Favret said, pointing to a name tag pinned to her winter jacket with the title "Official Elf."

Thousands of volunteers participated in the 62nd-annual Santas Anonymous charity event, delivering toys to more than 24,000 children in need.

Favret helped her mother carry plastic bags overflowing with gifts through the crowd at the Jerry Forbes Centre on Saturday.

"I like seeing people smile," she said. "Some kids ... don't get a lot of presents because their parents don't have a lot of money."

'I like to make people smile,' said Sophie Favret, who volunteered to deliver toys with her mother. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

Every year, donated toys are sorted into gift boxes for girls and boys aged 12 and under. Every child receives four toys, including a book and at least one item that doesn't require batteries.

Families that need help during the holidays can sign up for an anonymous gift donation, which is delivered to their door by volunteer drivers.

More than 1,200 delivery drivers registered for Santas Anonymous this year. Some lined up outside the Jerry Forbes Centre well before the 9:30 a.m. opening time on Saturday.

"This is absolutely phenomenal to see the public come out to help their neighbours," said Lana Nordlund, the event's executive director. 

Drivers are matched with a neighbourhood of their choice, where they deliver as many packages as possible. 

"All you need is time and some gas," Nordlund said.

'It'll boost Edmontonians' morale'

Santas Anonymous launched in 1955, delivering toys to about 600 children, according to the Santas Anonymous website.

This year, roughly 9,000 families with more than 24,000 children between them registered to receive toys from the charity.

"There are many people who are a little bit down on their luck this year," said Stella Devanthey, who volunteered as a driver.

"If each one helps one then it'll boost Edmontonians' morale a little bit at this time of year."

On Sunday, the Jerry Forbes Centre will be open until 6 p.m. or until the last gift has been picked up for delivery.

Volunteer drivers need a valid license and insurance to register.