Santa’s Workshop returns, making Christmas better for Comox Valley children

WatchThe children's charity was forced to take a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is once again refurbishing hundreds of toys and bikes. Dean Stoltz has more.

The largest Christmas charity effort of its kind on Vancouver Island is back.

Santa’s Workshop turns donated toys, books, games and more into gleaming presents that are like new and sure to bring smiles to hundreds of children on Christmas day.

“We look at it and say if it’s not good enough for our grandchild we won’t put it out for someone else’s,” said Michelle Pladzyk, who was methodically cleaning toys with a toothbrush Tuesday.

Santa’s Workshop began in the Comox Valley about 50 years ago, primarily to refurbish bicycles to give to children in need.

They’re still doing it today and will hand out over 250 bikes that volunteers like Ralph Larson are already making ship-shape.

“Safety is the biggest thing so the brakes and the bearings and everything are gone over and if they need replacing we replace them. They’re all greased and cleaned and made ready to go,” said Larson.

Games and puzzles are checked for all the pieces and anything electronic has to get past Wayne Kennedy.

“Most of them are in pretty good shape, we just check the batteries and everything to make sure everything works and then send them over to get washed and they clean them up,” said Kennedy.

A total of 177 children are already registered so more donations are always accepted.

“We can always use more toys and bikes,” said Santa’s Workshop president, George Luterbach. “You know we look for toys, we re-condition them and we have a percentage of new toys but our focus is really on used bicycles and toys and refurbishing them as functional.”

He says financial donations are also appreciated.

“It’s good to be working and giving things back to the community again and there’s certainly a demand for it,” said John Bernard, who began volunteering at Santa’s Workshop in 1995. He often takes puzzles home at night to ensure all the pieces are there.

Galaxy Motors is giving Santa’s workshop free rent in the old Finneron Hyundai building at Old Island Highway and Headquarters Road.

More information can be found here.

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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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