WINDSOR, N.S. — Every year, more than 200 dedicated volunteers come together on the first Sunday in December in hopes of making the holiday season a joyous one for families in need.
And work is well underway to make this year's Hants County Christmas Angels telethon one of the most successful to date.
University student Ashley Boyd, the 2017 co-ordinator, said she felt compelled to apply for the job as she enjoys helping others.
“This, so far, has been a humbling, eye-opening experience,” said Boyd.
“I think we need to put life into perspective. Going through some of these applications and speaking with some of these families in our community, I feel very grateful for the things that I have and I'm looking at Christmas a little bit differently this year.”
Boyd said there are some common items that are being sought after this year for the applicants – from coats and boots, to children's toys like Lego, Paw Patrol and Monster High dolls.
More than 130 applications for assistance have been submitted, and even though the deadline has passed, Boyd said they're still reviewing requests.
“I think it takes a lot for someone to apply for help for Christmas. What I've been trying to do is look at the applications objectively,” said Boyd.
Not all of the applicants are families already receiving social assistance. Boyd said many would fall into the category of the working poor.
“We're the largest not-for-profit organization in this community that helps families,” said Boyd.
The Acadia University student, who hails from Brooklyn, said supporting the organization has become a family affair.
“I feel like Christmas Angels has had a huge impact not only on my own life but on my family's. I know my siblings volunteer every year. My mom is now the president of the board,” she said.
The Dec. 3 telethon is by far the biggest fundraiser for the Hants County Christmas Angels organization. The show, which runs from noon until 8 p.m. at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor, is aired live on Eastlink TV and features many local performers as well as volunteers manning the pledge desk and phone lines. Last year's event raised more than $36,000.
Leading up to that, the society hosts several other functions. On Nov. 16, they partnered with Home Hardware for the grand opening of the store's Toy Land. Money raised that evening from ticket sales go straight to the Christmas Angels.
On Nov. 26, they have a ticket auction at the Super 8 in Windsor from 1-3 p.m.
“I think quite a few businesses in Windsor have donated either items or gift certificates. There will be lots of things available,” said Boyd.
There are also Trees of Hope located throughout the community. Shoppers are encouraged to pick a tag off of the tree and purchase a specific toy for the child.
The offices of Hants West MLA Chuck Porter and Rose Real Estate also play host to the Christmas Angels' toy drive. People are encouraged to drop off new, unwrapped gifts at those locations until Dec. 7.
Additionally, people can take on supporting a family at Christmas by becoming a Wishbook family.
The coveted sou'wester
In 1983, Jack Campbell donated a sou'wester from the Sou'wester Restaurant at Peggy's Cove to Dr. Garth Vaughan. Marion Reading attached a seagull to the hat and it was auctioned it off to the highest bidder.
Vernon Silver was the first person to claim the hat, paying $60.
The hat exchanged hands each year, from individuals to companies paying top dollar for the right to showcase the hat for the entire year.
The first year the bid broke $1,000 was in 1989, when J.P. Construction won the sou'wester for $1,025.
Gerald Bonang has held the hat for the longest amount of time, winning it first in 1991 and then each year from 2004 to 2010. In total, he's donated $32,950 towards winning the sou'wester.
The Dr. Garth Vaughan Sou'wester will once again be auctioned off Dec. 3 live on Eastlink TV during the telethon.
The most the hat was ever auctioned off for was $5,000.
“Whether it's businesses or people in the community, it would be great to see bids coming in on the hat.”