Jackie Smith of Santas Anonymous holds the group’s signature bear in front of the former Emily Carr library in Saanich

Santas Anonymous crew looks for new home

Charity group's 2014 home is expected to be sold out by the District of Saanich

For the last two months of 2014, more than 500 elves secretly sorted, packed and prepped packages for 1,400 Greater Victoria families in the former Emily Carr library branch at 3500 Blanshard St.

The building was vacated last January when  the branch moved into Uptown. That made it a perfect fit for CFAX Santas Anonymous, a surprisingly nomadic charity organization that provides 5,200 bags of groceries to families across the region each holiday season.

“We’ve been homeless for 37 years,” the organization’s president, Dan Deringer, said recently. “Every year, we start the process again of finding a space that can accommodate us. For 2015, that starts next week.”

Crews used every room in the former library, one of two facilities donated to Santas Anonymous this year. The old North Douglas Distributors warehouse off Boleskine Road was where 2014’s final package of toys and groceries were delivered (by local firefighters) or picked up by receiving families.

“We’ve run this program from vacant schools, warehouses, storefronts and buildings,” Deringer said.

The retired DND worker has been with Santas Anonymous for four years. During that time, they were blessed with the use of the vacated Richmond elementary. But with the current seismic upgrade schedule, Richmond is an active school once again: George Jay elementary is using it this year and Cloverdale students move for the 2015-16 school year.

Saanich donated use of the 1972-built Emily Carr building to Santas Anonymous free of charge, but it’s unlikely it will happen again in 2015.

“There will be discussion in the new year and, likely, an engineering assessment to upgrade the building,” said Harley Machielse, Saanich’s newly appointed director of engineering. “Right now, there’s no plan for the building, so I can’t speculate too much, but I would think a future tenant is ideal.”

A sale of the property would put Deringer and crew back to the same place they are every January, putting their heads together in the executive directors’ home office.

“We knock on wood that something will come up. There’s a lot of hard work going into this, but we can’t streamline the process without a space,” he said.

Ideally, the charity hopes to find an expansive space it can share with another tenant. Santas Anonymous would need to take over most of the building in November and December. From January to mid-October, they have an army of volunteers and a grant program to offer a partner willing to share the rental fees for a permanent location. Santas Anonymous programs such as Kids Helping Kids run all year, but are not as demanding in terms of space.

If you know of a large space that might work out, call 250-920-4644 or visit cfaxsantas.com.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Royal Roads prof named to Rowing Canada’s Hall of Fame

Former Olympic rower still putting oars in the water

Local volunteers get the scoop on bat poop

Bat droppings key to research in a number of areas

Colwood development draws ire of residents

Developer says he’s listened and addressed residents’ concerns

What is it like to be part of the Canadian Armed Forces?

Try military rations, combat gear and simulated shooting range on Saturday

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

West Shore craft fair roundup

Holiday-themed events taking place on the West Shore

Weekend hit list: Things to do in Greater Victoria

FRIDAY Find Mr. Nutcracker and his cousin Tommy Tempo as they visit… Continue reading

Most Read