Santa’s Workshop preparing for another busy season

  • Nov. 10, 2014 6:00 a.m.
Gifts are clearly marked by age group and sex for quick

Gifts are clearly marked by age group and sex for quick

Submitted by an elf

You may have noticed the sign “SANTA’S WORKSHOP” which appears each November and December somewhere in Courtenay.

This year Santa’s Workshop will be at 331 4th Street.

Do you know who runs it and what they do there?

Although it dates back more than 42 years Santa’s Workshop became a registered charity in 1994 organized and run by Comox Valley volunteers.  There are no paid employees or managers.  It is operated by a volunteer unpaid board and all the board members are also very busy workers during the two months the group is active.

Last year, Santa’s Workshop had 98 volunteers working anywhere from a half day a  week to full time (six hours a day, five days a week) to wash, clean, repair and organize Christmas  toys for Comox Valley children of families in need.

In 2013, 308 parents came through the warehouse  to select a variety of new and used toys, games, books, bicycles and activity materials for 682 children.  As well, 202 completely refurbished bicycles were given out to children. A large part of the warehouse is taken up by the bike repair shop.  Each bike is stripped down and cleaned thoroughly. All parts are checked and repaired or replaced, greased and oiled. Any bikes not suitable for gifts are used for spare parts. Because of having a supply of parts the cost to refurbish a bike is about five dollars, but it takes a lot of time.

How does it work?

Parents phone and make an appointment to come in and view what is in the warehouse.  Appointments are scheduled throughout the first three weeks of December and shopping is done in a private, individual setting.

The shoppers follow a circular route accompanied by an “elf” and a shopping cart. All the gifts are arranged on tables and shelving according to sex and age. The age groups are 0-2, 3-5. 6-8, 9-10, 11-13, 14-16.  Each parent can choose a used package and a “new” package, plus a bicycle, if needed.

Already at work

Volunteers began working last week. All the used toys are put into as close to new condition as possible. In November large boxes are covered with Christmas wrap and distributed to stores around the valley to receive donations.

In December parents begin coming in.

Santa’s Workshop has survived for all these years entirely on local donations.

This includes the volunteer hours to make it all happen, money to rent space, and new toys as required. Large number of individuals, families and groups donate a variety of new and used toys. Everything is gratefully received. It is critical to receive donations as early as possible.

Many people don’t think about Christmas until they flip to the calendar page. By then Santa’s has been running for a month and parents are booked and ready to see what is in the store for them. Some of the volunteers have been doing this for 27 years, many have 10 or more years in. The rewards are intangible but they are very, very real.  The volunteers don’t usually meet the people they help but on a rainy November day there is nothing better than spending several hours working hard to make someone else’s Christmas a little more enjoyable.

At the end of the day you go home tired but you feel really good inside and that’s why Santa’s Workshop exists today and has gone on for so many years.


Santa’s Workshop has a website,”” and a phone number (250-897-1994) active in November and December.


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