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Feeling blessed? Plenty of Xmas causes to support in Nunavut capital

Get into the Christmas spirit by helping your neighbours in need

By BETH BROWN AND JANE GEORGE

Iqalungmiut help to fill up Christmas hampers during a food drive hosted annually by the Iqaluit Rotary Club. You can come out on Saturday, Dec. 16, to help make the event a success again this year. (PHOTO BY JOHN MATTHEWS)


Iqalungmiut help to fill up Christmas hampers during a food drive hosted annually by the Iqaluit Rotary Club. You can come out on Saturday, Dec. 16, to help make the event a success again this year. (PHOTO BY JOHN MATTHEWS)

The holiday season is here in Iqaluit and with it comes many opportunities to give a little of your extra time, talent and treasure.

And many city groups, charities and even regular individuals have already organized ways to help you do that.

To spread that holiday spirit around, Nunatsiaq News reached out to some of those community groups to see what is happening when, who needs help with what and who is already on board.

This Saturday, Dec. 16, the Iqaluit Rotary Club needs extra hands at the cadet hall to help pack and deliver 200 Christmas dinner hampers to Iqaluit residents in need.

“It’s actually a fun morning and it goes quite quickly,” said the Rotary Club’s John Matthews.

Each hamper will hold “all the makings of a good Christmas dinner,” Matthews said, including a turkey, fruits and vegetables, coffee, tea, sugar, lard, flour, cranberry sauce, pilot biscuits, milk and a roasting pan.

Each hamper rings in at about $100.

“We’re still in the process of raising money. We’re still trying to cover our costs,” he said.

The club had raised just over half of the $20,000 it needs to cover the project, Matthews said earlier this week. Money can be donated to the Iqaluit Rotary Club even after Dec. 16. You can donate online at canadahelps.org.

The late Fred Coman, a well-known Iqaluit business owner, launched the Christmas hamper in the late 1970s, and it became an annual Rotary Club project.

Students at École des Trois-Soleils already have a head start on food donations. The youth have been collecting non-perishable goods since Dec. 4 and will donate those goods to the Qajuqturvik Food Centre on Dec. 20.

The food donations will help stock the soup kitchen’s pantry, but could also go towards its special Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch.

The soup kitchen will need extra help preparing, serving and cleaning up after that dinner service and holiday lunch, which will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24 and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 25 at the centre, beside the Anglican cathedral.

“We could always use donations of turkeys, or other things used for Christmas dinner,” Qajuqturvik Food Centre board chair Wade Thorhaug said, adding that tax receipts are available for cash donations of more than $20.

With so many regular volunteers away for the holiday season, Thorhaug said the centre could also use more volunteers for their regular meal schedule—that’s lunch on weekdays and supper on weekends.

The Qajuqturvik Food Centre can be contacted on Facebook or by email at qajuqturvik@gmail.com.

While the soup kitchen’s Christmas dinner is open to all ages, the youngest attendees will be treated to presents.

“We have a gift distribution for kids, provided by the Iqaluit Angel Tree Society,” Thorhaug said.

And other Iqaluit children are helping to make sure there are lots of children’s gifts to go around.

This week, Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik middle school students donated toys and a cheque to the Iqaluit Angel Tree Society, while also donating food to the Iqaluit men’s shelter.

For any elders looking for turkey dinners to attend, the Baffin Correctional Centre is holding its annual elders’ feast on Dec. 18.

“This event is an opportunity for inmates at BCC to show appreciation to elders who visit and support programming throughout the year,” a spokesperson for the GN Department of Justice said. “As well, it is a chance for elders who have never visited the facility to come and celebrate the holiday season.”

The feast, which will include country food, games and prizes, will start at 1:30 p.m. that day, but doors will open at 1 p.m.

Corrections staff will provide rides for any elders who need one. To make arrangements for those rides, you can contact the Elders’ Qammaq.

Iqaluit’s Qimaavik Women’s Shelter could also use some Christmas dinner fixings, though the shelter has a few other items on its wish list this year, acting executive director Dianne Rogers said.

“New pillows—our pillows are in terrible shape. The mattresses are in terrible shape too. These have been here for years.”

And, for anyone feeling particularly generous, “a new van,” would be a huge help, she said, laughing.

The shelter will be feeding Christmas dinner to roughly 40 women and children.

Iqaluit resident Linda Shaimaiyuk, who was profiled earlier this year in a Nunatsiaq News feature story, is back to helping her single parent and homeless friends in Iqaluit.

Shaimaiyuk recently put out a call on the Iqaluit Public Service Announcements Facebook page for items such as toe and hand warmers, water, boots of any size, coats and snow pants of any size, as well as canned and dried food and blankets. And, “last but not least, they need love, mostly on the holidays,” Shaimaiyuk wrote.

“If you have a tent or a shack you would like to donate, it will be in good use this winter,” she said. “I have a friend that will need a shack this winter to make his life a little better. He has no one, but if we come together and help one another, he can live easy and not so hard.”

Many in Iqaluit have already responded with donations of kids boots, bags of food, bannock and hats.

Shaimaiyuk, who can be reached on Facebook, is also accepting donations for a Christmas supper Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Anglican Parish Hall that she is co-organizing for the homeless and others in need.

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