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December 13, 2017


 

EVENTS

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Melissa Harrison of Charleston Lake Auto surrounded by her “friends” as she prepares for the recent Athens Parade of Lights. Photo: Sally Smid

 

Parade of Lights called one of the biggest and best ever

 

By Sally Smid

Perhaps it was the milder weather or the growing reputation of the Athens Parade of Lights, but this year’s event was one of the biggest and best attended. 

There were close to 70 entries and all of the streets along the parade route were packed with enthusiastic spectators. For participants it meant that it was easier to man floats, and pass out free candies and hot chocolate without the challenge of freezing temperatures. While snow could have perhaps added some Christmas atmosphere, there was no doubt that holiday cheer was in the air!

The Athens parade has   become one of the most popular in the area, drawing a crowd of thousands.  The Athens parade has taken place for 30 years, but 22 years ago the Howards began sponsoring the night time “Parade of Lights”.  There is a lot to consider in organizing such an event including arranging judges, refreshments, safety, and much more. Ray Heffernan was once again the parade commentator.  The Athens Lions Club and Tackaberry Construction also take on a very active part as well.

The procession included fire departments, bands, schools, businesses and much more as it wound through town from the rink parking lot and back with the beginning of the line-up meeting the long parade’s end. Parade organizer Dale Howard reported that Miller’s General Repair and Service won first prize for most original and the Hinton Auto Group placed second with their “Build a Mountain of Food” entry.  Donations were collected for the local Food Bank throughout the parade. Evoy Auto placed third. St. Joseph’s Catholic School won for best religious with the Heritage Community Christian School placing second. 

Carol-Ann Miller of Willard’s Bakery noted that this year the bakery was more prepared. “Last year with 1800+ single donuts thrown out to the crowd we unfortunately ran out and there were a lot of disappointed faces.”  This year the bakery had over 3500 doughnuts prepared.  Free chocolate milk, cider and candies were also offered to spectators. 

Of course the highlight for the youngsters is meeting Santa who visited at Howards’ garage following the parade when free refreshments were available once again. 

An almost full super moon shone down adding to the brilliant Christmas lights in the village of Athens welcoming in another Christmas season.  

 

 

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Volunteers Leita Sheffield, Fred Lunman, and Shirley Mainse are hard at work organizing items for the Athens Food Bank’s Christmas Hamper program. Photo: Sally Smid

 

Community volunteers deliver holiday support

By Sally Smid

While Christmas time is thought of as a time of joy and cheer, for some it is also a time of sadness and disappointment.  Many in our area can not afford nutritious food and basic needs, let alone gifts, a Christmas dinner and treats for a variety of reasons. 

Needs become especially more evident as winter heating bills increase in the midst of the holiday season. This may often be as a result of mental or physical disability and the victims are often children.  The Christmas Hamper program strives to make a difference for many of these marginalized families in our community who qualify.

Donations have come from local churches, schools, and more. Food items and appropriate gifts were organized into about 43 hampers by a small army of volunteers each year at the Free Methodist Church in Athens, the site of the local Food Bank.

Chair Bernice McLean has been involved for 25 years

“We have had lots of donations this year,” she reported, “But monetary gifts are also especially appreciated so that other needed purchases can be made and our shelves will need to be restocked in the new year.” 

The final Food Mountain Blitz was planned for Saturday, Dec.6 in Athens in the morning at the Athens Fresh Market and then, later, in Delta at the Delta Country Market. 

Christmas Day can also be a difficult time for many who are alone or have lost loved ones or are separated from family due to distance, aging or lack of funds. 

This year the Season of Joy Christmas Dinner will take place once again on Christmas Day between 12 and 2. 

Volunteers themselves are thrilled with the opportunity to serve others and enjoy time in the fellowship of neighbours.  The committee does everything from planning the event, purchasing groceries, cooking, preparing pies, setting up the hall and cleaning up as well. There are often some that find it difficult to attend because they feel uncomfortable with what they might consider to be “charity”.  Organizers urge local  community members to be aware of those in their neighbourhood who could benefit from such an event and perhaps extend and invitation or a ride to the event. 

Many are certainly in need of the benefit of a good meal, but there are a variety of reasons why guests seek out the yearly dinner. Some dinners can also be delivered locally to those who cannot travel and transportation to the meal can also be arranged by calling (613) 924-9697.

This seems to be the time of year when the generosity and caring of small communities is especially evident. Could it be that the Christmas Hampers and Dinner programs really centre on the true meaning of Christmas as they spread cheer and love to those in need?

It is also apparent that volunteers receive a special blessing themselves in the joy of giving to others in this season of giving.

 

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November 29, 2017

 

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