A secret Santa gave kids some late Christmas gifts, toys worth approximately $80,000 in total.
Santa, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he reached out to Stanton Territorial Hospital, and three MLAs — Deh Cho MLA Richard Edjericon, Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson and Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson — to help fill the needs of communities in the NWT.
Santa said he was unsure if any Covid-19 related regulations persisted at the hopistal. They gladly received the toys, but asked for no teddy bears, likely because of concerns related to viral illnesses, he added.
Christmas came and went without the toys arriving in time — Santa said that airlines containing the toys were delayed because of the weather.
Grimshaw Trucking was sympathetic to Santa’s cause. They delivered the toys and donated their time to help cut back shipping costs, which Santa said was a large portion of the cost.
“It’s not cheap, especially over the holidays when you’re asking them to send one trailer over Christmas.”
With help from Grimshaw and Summit Air, Santa was able to deliver the toys shortly after Christmas.
Thompson said that they reached out to organizations in multiple communities to see if they could distribute the toys. Depending on if they are able, the toys will possibly go out to Wrigley, Sambaa K’e, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence, and Fort Liard.
“It’s just amazing to have (Santa) provide Christmas in January,” said Thompson. “It’s unfortunate that through weather and other challenges we weren’t able to this during Christmas time but we thank very much the organizer.
“We’re looking forward to sharing this late Christmas present.”
All of the toys were purchased brand new and each toy costs $20 at minimum. The age demographic for the toys are targeted at 12 and under.
Some communities had all the toys they needed but others did not, said Santa. With the help of the MLAs, he sent toys to Lutselk’e, Fort Simpson and Tuktoyaktuk. There were also a couple of pallets worth of toys given to the hospital. Santa said that some of the MLAs told him that the need was greater than what he was able to provide.
“I did hear some feedback from Lutselk’e,” said Santa. “It was the first time anyone’s ever done that for them and they kind of didn’t know what to do, and that’s the purpose of it. Some kids are happy to get anything.”
Santa said he felt it was important to give gifts to Northerners.
“If you’ve been in the North long enough, you see the struggles,” he said. “It’s not been a fun couple years with Covid-19, economic times in the north and not the greatest, people are struggling, the cost of living is out of control.”
The Ladies Auxiliary, a volunteer group that runs The Joy Watt Gift Shop inside the hospital, will distribute the infant toys delivered to the hospital, along with a stuffed animal through their first newborn of the month program, as well as wherever else there’s a need or a request.
The hospital will also use toys for their children’s gift-giving program the hospital does every Christmas, said Patty Olexin-Lang, executive director of the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation.
“The toys are a very generous gift and we know that the children and families receiving them will be very appreciative,” she said. “Toys will also be distributed to the pediatrics unit and the pediatric clinic for their use and to distribute to children as they come through either the unit or clinic. Toys will be for the children to keep.”