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Naujaat gears up for Christmas Food Drive

'Tis the time of year when goodwill abounds and communities pull together and, in Naujaat, that means the start of the hamlet's annual Christmas Food Drive.

Senior administrative officer Rob Hedley officially starts the 2017 Christmas Food Drive in Naujaat on Nov. 16. photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis

Senior administrative officer (SAO) Rob Hedley said the food drive is a big part of the holiday season in Naujaat.

The SAO said the community has been trying to make the food drive an annual successful tradition for quite awhile now.

“This is my second year as SAO for the hamlet, and, when I came aboard this past year and spent my first Christmas here, we (the hamlet) said we want to have this Christmas food drive every year and have it be successful, so we started the drive relatively early,” said Hedley.

“We put quite a big box out front in the hamlet office for people to donate food items and we actually had to empty it out a couple of times.

“In total, we were able to put 69 Christmas food hampers together for 69 different families in the community.

“This year, we're adding warm-clothing items to the mix so people who may not be able to donate food items might be able to donate warm mitts or hats and, again, we decided to start things as soon as possible in hopes of matching, or exceeding, the success of this past year.”

The hamlet also holds a raffle to start the holidays on a festive note and herald the arrival of the community's Christmas Games.

Hedley said all efforts go into serving as many people in the community as the hamlet possibly can.

He said the Christmas food drive is treated warmly by the community, especially the families the hamlet is able to help brighten the holidays for.

“The idea behind this approach is similar to that of an extended family, or a brotherhood or fraternity.

“The holidays, kind of, bring that feeling out in most people anyway, and, by no means does anyone in our community look at those who receive a hamper and say you have less or anything of that nature.

“Everyone just wants to make sure every family, especially the kids, have the merriest Christmas possible.

“I'd like to think we all take pride in helping to provide for as many families as we possibly can during the Christmas season and, again, especially the kids, so, from my perspective, the people in the community feel they're doing this collectively as one big family caring for each other.”

Hedley said he's never heard a single complaint concerning how Naujaat's Christmas food drive is conducted.

He said the recipients are very appreciative and everyone seems happy and proud to be able to donate to the drive.

'Comes from community'

“The drive comes directly from the community, so it's not like it's from an outside agency or someone from down south saying this is what we think you need.

“This is the community, itself, coming out and saying this is what we want to give to our brothers, sisters, moms, dads and members of our extended families during Christmas time so everyone can enjoy the season as much as possible.

“The number of families we can help is dictated by the number of items we collect and, at the conclusion of the drive, we sit down with a list and go through it kind of ad hoc to determine how we're going to do it, because we don't have what some might call an official criteria for who qualifies.

“ It wouldn't feel so authentic with a criteria anyway, so it's a consensus approach that works quite effectively in spreading the hampers around to those who really need them, and it eliminates things like nepotism from the mix.”

Being able to lend a helping hand to 69 families in a community the size of Naujaat is a huge assist during the holiday season.

Hedley said he was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming level of support from the community for 2016's Christmas food drive.

He said this past year's raffle was far from a major thing and, hopefully, they may be able to increase that just a bit this year too.

“The people really took to our approach this past year and that's what we're hoping for, or expecting, this year as well.”

Hedley posted a notice of the annual food drive on the facebook page of the 3055 RCACC in Naujaat this year too.

He said every little bit helps, and the local cadet corps always plays a huge role in the community.

“Our Remembrance Day ceremony here on Nov. 10 was very professional, and people who experience it here for the first time are always blown away by how well it's done, the participation level, the professionalism of the cadets and their instructor, and how well it's received by the community.

“My dad was ex-military, so I've been in a lot of Remembrance Day ceremonies and I think I know what I'm talking about when I say the one here is very, very special.

“A lot of kids have received a lot of opportunity to travel and develop various skills through the local cadet program, which can boast, as far as I know, being the biggest cadet corps in Nunavut.

“I can't speak for the community, but I take a definite sense of pride in the success of our Naujaat cadet corps and I point that out every chance I get.”