BY JENNIFER HOEGG
A felt seagull and a local doctor have helped children have happier holidays for 25 years. Attached to the Christmas Angels’ Sou’Wester, the oddly crafted bird decorated with real feathers has helped to raise funds at the annual Christmas Angels Show, held by Family and Children’s Services of Hants County.
The famous black Peggy’s Cove sou’wester was given to Dr. Garth Vaughan by Jack Campbell, operator of the Peggy’s Cove Sou’Wester Restaurant and a former resident of Curry’s Corner, in 1982. Vaughan wore the souvenir hat while playing accordion in the Newfie Bullet Show band. The following year, Mrs. Marion Reading, a Family and Children’s Services of Hants County employee, crafted the unique seagull and attached it to the hat.
Every year since, the Seagull Sou’Wester has been auctioned off to local citizens and businesses. This is the 25th year for the Sou’Wester auction and $35,000 has been raised so far by that iconic hat and bird.
Garth Vaughan has supported the Christmas Angels telethon for even longer than the Sou’Wester’s gull. In addition to his service to local children through telethon participation, the multi-talented Windsor native is a retired general surgeon, artist, photographer, writer and hockey heritage booster. This year, Vaughan has donated a beautiful oil painting of a marsh with a Cape Blomidon view that will be awarded to the winning bidder in the Seagull Sou’Wester Auction.
Grateful for the support
Christmas Angels’ coordinator Nancy Quinn is grateful for Vaughan’s continued support. “He’s wonderful with the community and a long-time supporter of Christmas Angels. Last year’s auction of the Sou’Wester and Dr. Vaughan’s artwork earned $3,000.”
Quinn said, “his artwork commands these prices!” And the seagull topped hat? “The last few years, the top bidder has been Gerald Bonang of Nothing Fancy Furniture. They display the Sou’Wester all year long.”
It’s a special event that attracts such loyal support. Thirty years of holiday productions have helped Family and Children’s Services of Hants County assist more than 22,000 children in need.
For the 31st year, Christmas Angels is gearing up now for its signature event; the Dec. 2 show. Each year, local musicians, choirs and personalities entertain viewers and listeners while volunteers collect pledges toward Christmas help for families.
The broader Hants County community shows support for the program year after year. Quinn notes, “we enjoy a lot of good local support. For example, The Rotary Club has been consistent supporters and bidders every year and so many local citizens contribute.” Quinn is a working with this year’s Honourary Chair, Scott Geddes of Cocoa Pesto Bistro, to promote the production.
Geddes is a big believer in helping out. “Community is important to me,” he says. But he admits, as a small business owner, it can be challenging to choose which good causes to support. “We have tried to pick key issues that are important to us. Christmas Angels ties in with our vision of trying to assist in providing stable family environments in our community. The event draws our attention because it’s well organized and the agency uses such a high percentage of funds to help children directly.”
With Christmas Angels, it really is all about the children. Ninety-three to 99 per cent of funds raised each year go directly to needy families with children under 16 years of age. To pledge your support, tune in to Eastlink Television or CFAB 1450 radio at noon Saturday, Dec. 2.
Although the show is the centrepiece of the Family and Children’s Services of Hants County Christmas fundraising, the Tree of Hope and Wish Book Program also helps many families. Tree of Hope locations for 2007 are: Windsor Scotiabank, Royal Bank and CIBC; Hantsport’s Scotiabank and Victory Credit Union; and various Mount Uniacke merchants.
The agency’s Wish book program matches local organizations with families who need a Christmas dinner and gift package. To participate, call 798-6859.
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BY JENNIFER HOEGG