The elves of Seven Oaks Cannington: Santa’s Workshop

A Christmas story: Workshop Supervisor Jimmy Babaeff and toymaker and volunteer Frank Gordin are busy getting toys ready for under-privileged children this Christmas. Picture: Marie Nirme www.communitypix.com.au d443805
A Christmas story: Workshop Supervisor Jimmy Babaeff and toymaker and volunteer Frank Gordin are busy getting toys ready for under-privileged children this Christmas. Picture: Marie Nirme www.communitypix.com.au d443805

ABOUT 20 years ago, Santa Claus opted to outsource his elves to a group of passionate volunteers who build toys all year round for under-privileged children.

Hidden away in a shed at Seven Oaks Senior College in Cannington, the real-life Santa’s Workshop, run with OutCare, is filled with toys and buzzing with 40 volunteers.

What began in 1998 as a collection of donated toys for the children of prisoners is now an all-year commitment to making Christmas special for families across WA, with deliveries going as far as Fitzroy Crossing.

Workroom supervisor Delys Barry said the group began building toys after fewer donations were received from the public.

“We build dog kennels, tables, dressing tables and doll prams; things that are made just for the recipient and designed by the men in the workshop,” she said.

Mrs Barry said more toys went out than she could count and that for every government department that picked up toys for disadvantaged children, there was a playgroup doing the same.

“A group comes in every month or two to get donated toys that aren’t able to be fully repaired… we want Christmas presents to look brand new,” she said.

“Last year we prepared more than 2000 packages for children for Christmas and this year we expect that number to be between two and three thousand again.”

Donations received are vetted by the workroom and cleaned up to look brand new, then gift-wrapped awaiting delivery. Toys that do not meet their high standards are for playgroups.

Mrs Barry said the group needed donations of good quality toys all year-round and the workshop was on the look out for painters.

“There’s always a place for someone here,”she said.

Donations can be made between 9am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays at Santa’s Workshop at Seven Oaks College, Cannington.