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First-year university student collects gifts for women staying at Women’s Resources

in Community by

“You don’t really guess that a lot of stuff could happen in a small town. People kind of turn a blind eye to it.”

These are the words of Raina McCue, an 18-year-old, first-year student of psychology at Trent University, regarding abuse and trauma suffered by women and their families. The month of December, while most often associated with the joys and giving spirit of the holiday season, is also the marker of a more somber occasion.

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We need some Christmas cheer

in Opinion by
The Ramones. Plismo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

No one ever accused me of being the biggest fan of Christmas. Heck, the kids just picked me up a Sally-Ann gem: a T-shirt with Darth Vader in a Santa hat below the word ‘humbug!’ It’s the only Christmas thing I own that’s (in the words of Farley Mowat) worth the powder to blow it all to hell.

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There is no ‘them’ when we’re all in this together

in Community by

Exhibit 1: Trevor Berkan was the kind of person people around Southey, Sask., described as always putting others first. He died of an aortic dissection at the tragically young age of 41 in September, leaving much of the family farm’s crop unharvested.

Neighbours immediately designated a Saturday to finish the harvest and without anyone formally calling for help, 50 people and 17 combines showed up — more help than could be used, at a time when everyone also needed to get their own crops in.

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More children than adults at A Place Called Home this Christmas

in Community/Social Issues by
APCH Board Chair Karen Round.

The sound of children’s voices during the holidays typically conjures feelings of warmth and sentimentality – unless, of course, those voices are in a homeless shelter.

It’s a jarring mental image but one that A Place Called Home in Lindsay is being forced to contemplate.

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An annual tradition: The Living Christmas Tree

in Around Town/Community by

It’s the first week of Advent, circa 2001. Throngs of children and teenagers arrayed in burgundy-and-white choir gowns gather in the Sunday School room at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, talking excitedly among themselves.  In due course, they troop upstairs and are marshalled outside of the minister’s vestry.

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Meals on Wheels may be the only social interaction some have on Christmas Day

in Community/Health/Seniors/Social Issues by
Art Myers, left, and Len Skelton, right, volunteers for Meals on Wheels.

It’s the time of year when we look ahead just a few weeks to the Christmas season. For many people, it’s a ‘warm and fuzzy’ exercise as they anticipate family gatherings and meals accented with laughter, merriment and reflections of their blessings. It’s not necessarily so for everyone, however.

As much as the holiday season can be heartwarming and positive for some, it also a very ‘blue’ time for others who may be without family and friends. Stress of the holidays can combine with circumstances that trigger sadness and melancholy instead of happiness and positive moods. Not everybody looks forward to the holidays, especially if it means being alone.

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The spirit of the season: What is it, and how do we make it last?

in Community by
What would happen if, as a reformed Scrooge promises, we kept Christmas in our hearts all the year?

Maybe you’re hearing it already. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. But what do we really mean when we say things like “getting into the Christmas spirit” or “the true spirit of the season”? What exactly is this thing that we all profess to desire not just now, but all year long?

Although it’s not precisely religious, it is something that transcends the ordinary, says Rev. Linda Park, lead minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Lindsay. “I think it’s a longing for a sense of generosity, a sense of family, a sense of community.”

When people use the phrase, what they’re identifying is “a spirit of giving, a spirit of feeling at one, of reaching out beyond themselves,” often mingled with nostalgia, suggests Rev. Craig Donnelly, minister at Cambridge Street United Church.

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Faithful giving at St. Thomas Aquinas

in Around Town/Community/Education/Social Issues by
Students provided donations geared to the age of the children, as well as items for the family as a whole.

True to its commitment to not only providing education, but also to helping its students live out their faith, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Lindsay has just wrapped up a campaign that saw the school community providing gifts for families in need.

As part of the school’s ‘Be an Angel’ program, the families were identified by St. Vincent de Paul, the Roman Catholic charity, and assigned to the school for some seasonal kindness.

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The thrill of the festive hunt: Your guide to bazaar season

in Around Town/Community/Local News/Seniors by

Starting in mid-November, every weekend offers you the chance to pick up unique finds that are locally made, reasonably priced and usually support a great cause. That’s the beauty of Christmas bazaar season. Watch for signs outside churches, charities and nursing homes starting in mid-November.

Pro tip: Bring several of your own reusable containers for cookies and other baking, and cloth bags for larger purchases. And remember, like any other shopping expedition, it’s easy to get carried away—there are definitely better and worse choices.

Best bets

You’re looking for things you can’t get anywhere else, or that you can’t or won’t make yourself. Keep an eye out for:

-microwaveable rice- or bean-filled neck bags. These are often available at bazaars in much cheaper and more attractive versions than you’ll find in stores.

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I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

in Community/Opinion by
Christmas has become associated with the pressures of finding “the perfect gift,” and the anxiety that comes with spending more money than we have.

It is surely ironic that Christmas, the celebration of a child born to a homeless couple, has become one of the biggest consumer festivals of our culture. As a result Christmas has become associated with the pressures of finding “the perfect gift,” and the anxiety that comes with spending more money than we have. And, of course, there is the strain that all the “stuff” that comes with the season puts on our already fragile earth.

So what are a few things that we can do to make Christmas a time of generosity and love not just for each other, but for the earth? Here are a few suggestions.

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