Every year, after all students and staff have left for the weekend, if not for the year, some strange activities occur in the Centre’s hallways… Ghosts of Chrismases? Actually, it’s the Chateauguay Raiders helping out their community by preparing Christmas baskets and gift bags for families and people in need.
This endeavour was started a while ago by the Kinsmen group in the late 50’s. Nick Iannuccitti and Judy Palmer joined the activity in 1985. Collaborating with St-Vincent-de-Paul, Nick makes sure to get the names of people requesting baskets. Some years, they sent out more than one hundred baskets to local families and people. Some volunteers have been doing this for years, some are children – and grandchildren- of those who started this a long time ago!
The NOVA hallways have been used for the last few years. Other sites were used in the past: churches, houses, businesses. A few years ago, it seemed obvious that NOVA would be a perfect spot for the management of the activity: wide and long hallways, access to garages, central location in Chateauguay…
The actual day of preparation is something to see, a well-oiled, organized chaos… A whirlwind of a ballet. The boxes come in and are prepared and lined up. Then the goods and gifts start coming in. Nick has his own system, always buying or requesting things in multiples of 12 or 24, for example, to minimize leftover food.
Gifts are donated by some local bars. Amici, for example, puts up a Christmas Tree with tags on which an age level is written down, customers pick a tag, go buy a gift and bring them back for donation. This way, it’s easy to pinpoint the right gift according to the need and the requests from families.
“Next year, I’m gonna help as a worker!” Nick says, essentially taking the role of an Elf rather than Santa’s… Erin Finnerty is scheduled to orchestrate the whole event, under her guidance, … We have a jolly feeling that it will go well, in deed.