Residents are encouraged to take photos beside the Giant Santa, posting them to social media with the hashtag #FernieSanta. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Residents are encouraged to take photos beside the Giant Santa, posting them to social media with the hashtag #FernieSanta. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Giant Santa fundraises for EIDES’s Breakfast Buddies program

For every photo with Santa, homeowner Renee Osborne will donate to EIDES’s Breakfast Buddies program

Giving locals a rather large reason to smile this holiday season, a giant inflatable Santa Claus greets passersby on a lawn in downtown Fernie – but what makes the 33 foot tall inflatable statue even more uplifting is that for every photo taken with Santa, homeowner Renee Osborne is donating to Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School’s (EIDES) Breakfast Buddies program.

“I was hoping for our Christmas decorations to be something subtle and elegant, but we put him up and immediately people started pulling over, so we thought we should make something out of him,” said Osborne.

“We are hoping that (Giant Santa) will help motivate us to raise some more money for the Breakfast Buddies program – and with the hashtag, we can also see people’s photos, which is super cool.”

EIDES’s Breakfast Buddies program helps provide meals for students in need. According to Osborne, the program is currently striving towards raising extra funds to prepare Christmas Hampers for children and their families.

Osborne, who works as an occupational therapist in local schools, feels strongly about the initiative as she often sees the need for such programs first-hand.

“When I came back and told (my partner) that there are kids coming to school with hardly any breakfast or really small lunches because it’s just so expensive, he just couldn’t wrap his head around it, so he decided that would be the charity that we would support,” said Osborne.

According to Osborne, her partner, owner of The Northern Bar and Stage Todd Shipley, has also been fundraising for the Breakfast Buddies program through the bar’s charity tap.

“He’d raised about $750 through The Northern, so we though we would partner with that and try and raise some extra money for the program.”

Osborne said she hopes her contributions coupled with the Northern’s Charity Tap will donate a total of $1,000 by the end of the holiday season.

“We’re just trying to make something fun because I think with the COVID-cloud at the moment, there is not a lot of ridiculous, silly, fun things going on.”

Giant Santa lives at 402 4th Avenue in Fernie, and is awake nightly between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Those interested in participating in Osborne’s fundraiser must tag their photos on Instagram and Facebook with #FernieSanta.

READ MORE: Santa pays visit to Red Apple’s Fill a Sleigh Day event

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