After 30 years as president of Santas Anonymous, and more years on the board, Mel Cooper has officially stepped down.
"I believe we need to encourage younger people who want to help," said Cooper, of his reason for stepping down.
"I'm feeling very comfortable that it is in really good shape … From a little acorn, a big Christmas tree has grown."
It was 34 years ago that real-estate agent Marilyn Cann appealed to Cooper to help out with her Christmas charity, after its media sponsor backed out. Cooper, who owned CFAX at the time, agreed and the charity's been tied to the radio station ever since.
The father of five, grandfather of 12, and great-grandfather of five, says it's all about the children. "I always felt that children were the victims of what we adults couldn't do for them," he said.
Cooper, who still chairs the Telus Victoria Community Board, added he's not cutting ties with Santas Anonymous completely.
"My last message to the board and to the current president, Alan Brown, was to say, 'Alan, you know how to get me.'"
Cooper's resignation is just one of many changeovers on the Santas board. Joe Easingwood, Maureen Quested and Bruce Williams also stepped down, and were replaced with Dan Deringer, Eric Spurling, Sooke Mayor Janet Evans, and CFAX appointees Ryan Price, Coreen Mae and Rebecca Reeves.
Did you know?
Santas Anonymous has 250 volunteers annually. The organization matches 5,500 children with anonymous "santas" who supply a $40-$45 gift requested by the child. Volunteers also prepare Christmas food hampers for families, and contribute $200,000 toward children's projects throughout the year.