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Angels unite for Christmas in Hants County


HANTS COUNTY – There’s a reason Delores Arsenault has been collecting Christmas gifts for children in need for nearly three decades.

She’s been in their shoes.

“I was one of those kids that we depended on organizations,” the 66-year-old East Hants resident said.

Arsenault’s childhood memories of Christmas morning compelled her to get involved with the Hants County Christmas Angels Society’s Tree of Hope program more than 25 years ago.

“I remember as a child getting up and being really disappointed ‘cause I never got what I asked for – you had to take what you got,” she said.

The Tree of Hope program relies on the generosity of the general public. A Tree of Hope is decorated with tags that contain information about a particular child’s Christmas wish.

“I have a great community here; you’d never believe how great they are,” said Arsenault, who works at Lakeland Variety Store.

Community members take a tag, purchase a gift for the child described on the tag and return the unwrapped present to the Tree of Hope location.

Arsenault works with a friend to oversee the four Tree of Hope locations in Mount Uniacke – Lakeside Variety, Uniacke Pizza, Eddy’s Variety and Esso.

There will be at least 100 tags distributed to the four trees in Mount Uniacke. Some of the children benefiting from the Tree of Hope program will receive gifts Arsenault purchased with money raised through a book sale she holds a Lakeland Variety.

“I feel happy that a child is going to get up on Christmas morning and get what they want,” said Arsenault.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.” 

North Pole correspondent helping from afar

Arsenault is not alone in her desire to help the Christmas Angels assist families in need over the holidays.

Former Brooklyn resident Gloria Burbidge may have physically distanced herself from her hometown by moving to Kimmirut, Nunavut, but she has far from forgotten about the organization she’s supported for 20 years.

“Many years ago when I worked for the Royal Bank, as a group, we helped Christmas happen for a family that had a very sick child,” said Burbidge.

“I will never forget the phone call from the Mom and the tears of joy I heard as she thanked everyone through me. I believe sharing and loving, in any capacity, is the true essence of Christmas.”

Burbidge volunteered to be the North Pole correspondent for Christmas Angels this year, given her proximity to the big guy in red.

“She didn't know how she could continue to be a part but after running into Santa one day in the fall, she realized that she now has an even bigger role - to be my connection to Santa,” said Christmas Angels co-ordinator Erin Amirault, explaining the role of the North Pole correspondent.

“The society has relied on Gloria and her group of family and friends to provide "Christmas" to many families over the years. Gloria works hard all year collecting things that she can give others at Christmas.”

Burbidge donated an angel sculpted by Kimmirut-based carver Willy Kolola, 18, for the annual Christmas Angels Telethon scheduled to air on Eastlink from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 7.

“Willy is in and out of the store several times a day so I have grown attached to his impish grin. I have watched his work improve steadily over the past six months and decided to challenge him to carve an angel,” said Burbidge, who challenges others who have recently moved out of Hants County to reconnect with their hometown by supporting the upcoming Christmas Angels Telethon.

The angel carving is a reflection of Burbidge’s life in Kimmirut, and the spirit of the holiday season.

“We will have the angel displayed during the telethon as a reminder to all of us what we are working for - the children. Children cannot control their lives or their situations, they shouldn't have to go without at Christmas,” said Amirault.

Amirault said the carving is now a symbol of love, happiness, hope and peace – the very things Christmas Angels is all about.

 

She’s been in their shoes.

“I was one of those kids that we depended on organizations,” the 66-year-old East Hants resident said.

Arsenault’s childhood memories of Christmas morning compelled her to get involved with the Hants County Christmas Angels Society’s Tree of Hope program more than 25 years ago.

“I remember as a child getting up and being really disappointed ‘cause I never got what I asked for – you had to take what you got,” she said.

The Tree of Hope program relies on the generosity of the general public. A Tree of Hope is decorated with tags that contain information about a particular child’s Christmas wish.

“I have a great community here; you’d never believe how great they are,” said Arsenault, who works at Lakeland Variety Store.

Community members take a tag, purchase a gift for the child described on the tag and return the unwrapped present to the Tree of Hope location.

Arsenault works with a friend to oversee the four Tree of Hope locations in Mount Uniacke – Lakeside Variety, Uniacke Pizza, Eddy’s Variety and Esso.

There will be at least 100 tags distributed to the four trees in Mount Uniacke. Some of the children benefiting from the Tree of Hope program will receive gifts Arsenault purchased with money raised through a book sale she holds a Lakeland Variety.

“I feel happy that a child is going to get up on Christmas morning and get what they want,” said Arsenault.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.” 

North Pole correspondent helping from afar

Arsenault is not alone in her desire to help the Christmas Angels assist families in need over the holidays.

Former Brooklyn resident Gloria Burbidge may have physically distanced herself from her hometown by moving to Kimmirut, Nunavut, but she has far from forgotten about the organization she’s supported for 20 years.

“Many years ago when I worked for the Royal Bank, as a group, we helped Christmas happen for a family that had a very sick child,” said Burbidge.

“I will never forget the phone call from the Mom and the tears of joy I heard as she thanked everyone through me. I believe sharing and loving, in any capacity, is the true essence of Christmas.”

Burbidge volunteered to be the North Pole correspondent for Christmas Angels this year, given her proximity to the big guy in red.

“She didn't know how she could continue to be a part but after running into Santa one day in the fall, she realized that she now has an even bigger role - to be my connection to Santa,” said Christmas Angels co-ordinator Erin Amirault, explaining the role of the North Pole correspondent.

“The society has relied on Gloria and her group of family and friends to provide "Christmas" to many families over the years. Gloria works hard all year collecting things that she can give others at Christmas.”

Burbidge donated an angel sculpted by Kimmirut-based carver Willy Kolola, 18, for the annual Christmas Angels Telethon scheduled to air on Eastlink from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 7.

“Willy is in and out of the store several times a day so I have grown attached to his impish grin. I have watched his work improve steadily over the past six months and decided to challenge him to carve an angel,” said Burbidge, who challenges others who have recently moved out of Hants County to reconnect with their hometown by supporting the upcoming Christmas Angels Telethon.

The angel carving is a reflection of Burbidge’s life in Kimmirut, and the spirit of the holiday season.

“We will have the angel displayed during the telethon as a reminder to all of us what we are working for - the children. Children cannot control their lives or their situations, they shouldn't have to go without at Christmas,” said Amirault.

Amirault said the carving is now a symbol of love, happiness, hope and peace – the very things Christmas Angels is all about.

 

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