Students at Tuugaalik High School were given an early taste of Christmas when they each received a shoe box of gifts all the way from Sydney, N.S., on Dec. 13 in Naujaat.

Grade 9 girls, from left, Cheryl Ignerdjuk, Angelina Siusangnark, Deanna Kringayark, Cassandra Kripanik, Sabina Iyyiraq, Emily Qaunaq, Britney Kopak and Brenda Aglak, proudly display the gift boxes they received from Cape Breton, N.S., at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Dec. 13. photo courtesy of Julia MacPherson

Tuugaalik vice-principal Julia MacPherson said her mom, Mary, and the Catholic Women’s League decided to sponsor the school for Christmas towards the end of this past summer and early fall.

She said the group collected more than 170 shoe boxes and filled them with donated gifts such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hair elastics, brushes, combs, watches, hats, gloves, scarfs, makeup, jewelry and games for students in Grade 7 to 12.

The gift boxes filled 11 large boxes, which Air Canada shipped to Winnipeg for the group, where they were picked up by Calm Air and delivered to Naujaat.

The holidays can be a tough time for a lot of our students because the school – which is a warm-and-welcoming place with food, support and comfort – closes down for two-and-a-half weeks,” said MacPherson.

Some students aren’t fortunate enough to receive a gift at Christmas, so it’s always really important for us to ensure we’re giving them something that’s just for them, and we’ve been fortunate because the Edmonton Lions Club has been donating gifts for years, and we received some gifts this year from the Northern Neighbours group.

My mom and I were talking and her church group had indicated it may want to sponsor a school and do something nice for the holidays, so Mom pitched the idea of getting some little gifts and donations together and sending them to our school, and they took the idea and ran with it.”

MacPherson said there wasn’t an empty space in her parents’ living room as they put the shoe boxes full of gifts together.

She said the group formed an assembly line to fill the boxes and individually wrap every box with a tag.

There were 172 boxes sent to us, with every student in grades seven to 12 receiving one, as well as our custodian, our secretary, the DEA secretary and our student support assistants,” she said.

Most of the students didn’t open their boxes on Dec. 13, but there were a few chuckles going around when some of the boys were a little excited and took the wrong box, only to open it and find lipstick, nail polish and such.

We just switched them up and they were happy as can be and on their way.

The gift boxes were really well received with a few students being overwhelmed and shedding a few tears, and everyone smiling and being happy about everything.”

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