North Dundas Christmas Fund Angel and ‘Share’ Trees awaiting your gifts

Winchester BMR co-owner Ken Boje and the Angel Tree at the store (in 2018). Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Donations also sought for annual ‘Heat for the Holidays’ and snowsuits programs

NORTH DUNDAS — There’s still time to put a smile on the face of a local child this Christmas during this very strange year of 2020 — by contributing a gift to a local ‘Angel Tree’ benefiting the North Dundas Christmas Fund.

The pandemic situation means prospective donors might be looking a little harder to find a local Angel or ‘Share’ Tree this year — but they’re out there.

Winchester District Memorial Hospital, the Winchester Bank of Montreal branch, St. Clare’s Anglican Church, and Winchester BMR all have the program running. Contributors take a card off the tree indicating the age and gender of a child, then return to the tree with a gift or toy. The collected Yuletide loot goes out with North Dundas Christmas Fund’s annual basket distribution, scheduled Dec. 16-18 in North Dundas.

“The support has been good,” says Winchester BMR proprietor Ken Boje of the Share Tree at his store. “But I think we need to get the message out that there are these trees in the community,” adds the businessman, who sits as a member of the North Dundas Christmas Fund. He’s seen posts by people looking for Share Trees on social media, he says, and with the pandemic cutting the number of sites this year, there is concern for a negative impact on toy donations.

And while toys and other potential gifts are available at Boje’s store, program participants “certainly don’t have to buy them here,” he emphasizes. In fact, most of the gifts left under the tree at Winchester BMR are bought elsewhere, he says.

Snowsuit campaign

Once again, Winchester BMR is serving as a central staging area and procurement centre for the annual snowsuit drive, too. And this year, Boje says he’s assisting with the South Dundas campaign as well, as snowsuits “are in short supply.”

“We probably have enough to cover our own, but we’ve also been asked to help South Dundas … to get some suits and stuff for them,” he says, clarifying that the effort in the southern half of Dundas County is funded out of a separate program.

Heat for the Holidays

Boje also anticipates the 2020 edition of the annual ‘Heat for the Holidays’ initiative will end up delivering a month’s worth of fuel logs to 50 households later this month, up from last year’s 42 or 43. Organized in coordination with the House of Lazarus in Mountain, Heat for the Holidays is funded entirely through donations. Winchester BMR itself contributes delivery to each recipient home and three skids of the fuel (for three households) to the program. The store also supplies the logs at cost to the program.

“We anticipate running the deliveries over five days,” he says, also acknowledging Ed Duncan’s JED Express for again supplying a pair of trailers to temporarily store the Eco-Energy fireplace logs. Some families may receive wood pellets instead, if they are set up for that fuel.

Boje says he’s trying to line up volunteers to assist with unloading the fuel — though in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, such as having family bubbles on the same crews. He may also make greater use of the power lift on the delivery truck, he says, leaving the pallet pile in one spot without manual intervention in some cases.

Below, learn more about the Heat for the Holidays program.
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