The year 2020 will be one for the books. Each one of us had to change our normal and make sacrifices to protect the ones we love and those we do not even know. I have a keen eye for those who go above and beyond to help others, but the challenging year that was 2020 has heightened my senses.
We just got through the holiday season – one that was probably one of the most challenging for a lot of people, be it from an economic standpoint or a social one where Islanders couldn’t celebrate long-standing family traditions due to the pandemic. But one tradition that continued was Santa’s Angels. And a lot of that credit goes to Kenny Zakem, the heart and soul behind the organization.
What started in 2004 – when I was 11 years old – as a way to give out a few extra toys in Charlottetown, has grown into a well-oiled machine that has volunteers from tip-to-tip creating magic for hundreds of kids and their families on Christmas morning. 2020 was my second year throwing on the red suit. No words can describe the feeling you get seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they see the "big guy", and the tears in their parents’ eyes.
It has been a couple of weeks since Christmas Day and I am still reliving each and every encounter I had that morning. I am writing this letter to give well-deserved recognition to all within the organization and the volunteers, but a special shout-out to Kenny.
I remember asking Kenny earlier in the year if we would be able to go out Christmas morning due to the current pandemic. Kenny looked at me, smiled and said, “We are going to make it happen, buddy.” With some changes to protect the families and volunteers – we made it happen. Even in a year where we all made sacrifices, Kenny didn’t lose sight, and never lost hope. Because of him and all his elves – we got to deliver hundreds of smiles.
Prince Edward Island is beyond lucky to have Kenny Zakem. Thank you for everything, my friend.