Delicious turkey dinner – it is a mainstay for most families in the Strait area during the Christmas season.
But, for some, it is a challenge – one that volunteers with the Port Hawkesbury Seasonal Services Project are, once again, there to help overcome.
“Everything you would have on your table – we want to make sure they can have it on theirs,” co-ordinator Jo-Anne MacDonald said, in outlining the goal of providing families in need with a nutritious meal.
The project provides ‘dinner boxes,’ including a turkey and other items, which are delivered on the Sunday (Dec. 17) before Christmas.
For more than 30 years, the Port Hawkesbury Seasonal Services Project, in cooperation with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, has provided thousands of families with ‘dinner boxes’ for Christmas.
In recent years, the project delivers 110 to 120 packages, annually, with the highest being 180 during its history.
“Money,” MacDonald said, with a laugh, when asked what is needed to make this year’s campaign successful.
She noted the generosity of community members, volunteer organizations and churches, is integral in helping the project reach the required $6,000 to $7,000 fundraising goal.
“People are awesome,” MacDonald said.
She added, each year, the Town of Port Hawkesbury pledges to provide a financial safety net, of sorts, if that needed amount is not reached.
Because of the aforementioned generosity from the community, MacDonald noted, the project has not had to access the municipal monies.
“The spirit of giving is strong in the Strait. It is an honour to be the Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury, especially when so many people are ready and willing to help those in need,” Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said, in a press release announcing the launch of the 2017 campaign.
“The commitment of our volunteers and their willingness to give is one of the key reasons Port Hawkesbury is a wonderful place to live.”
Those volunteers are front-and-centre when the ‘dinner boxes’ are packed at Sobeys Port Hawkesbury on the day [Saturday] before delivery, with milk and turkey on the day of [delivery].
“Rain or shine – you wouldn’t believe it,” MacDonald said, in illustrating the commitment made by delivery drivers.
When asked about the need, she agreed, “It is certainly still there.”
“It is, often, for people who, kind of, fall through the cracks,” MacDonald said in talking about the “working poor,” who can benefit from the program.
Also, in conjunction with the ‘dinner boxes,’ Port Hawkesbury Dairy Queen and Sobeys will be accepting toy donations. A special tree set-up at the Reeves Street restaurant is adorned with Christmas tags that include the age and gender of a child.
People are encouraged to take a tag, purchase a gift suitable for the child and put it under the tree, with the tag attached.
Volunteers will be picking up the gifts and delivering them.
MacDonald, who has been involved with the initiative for more than three decades, reflected on how it has touched lives.
“It is an amazing feeling when you are finished,” she said.
Financial donations can be dropped off at RBC Port Hawkesbury and Port Hawkesbury post office, or can be emailed to [email protected]
To receive an application for a ‘dinner box,’ contact Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.
If people are interested in volunteering, or would like more information, contact MacDonald at 902-625-3003.
“It is amazing to see how good people are,” MacDonald said, while wishing everyone in the region a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.