We tend to gauge the start of the Christmas season with parades, and the blitz from the retail world that they’re ready to take care of your shopping needs. On the Christian calendar – more so in tune with the season’s meaning – this weekend churches will mark the first Sunday of Advent.
But another sign, this one bleak on one level, encouraging on another, is the various drives and programs to see that people going through tough times have the little bit extra needed for a celebratory Christmas.
Of course, one of the cornerstones in the area is the Pictou County Christmas Fund, with the annual telethon taking place Sunday at the deCoste Centre in Pictou. Running from 1 to 7 p.m., it will feature musical performances from a number of local and regional artists, providing the public a chance to phone in pledges, or to make them in person at the deCoste while taking in some of the show, or at a number of other locations.
In itself, it’s a joyous event – but with a sombre undertone.
Telefund chair Camille LeParque notes that last year about 2,700 people registered for the fund, which helps families have a hearty Christmas dinner. In a county of 45,000 or so, that’s substantial.
He said the demand keeps rising by 10 to 13 per cent each year – meaning about 3,000, or 1,300 families – are expected to be seeking assistance from it this year.
In addition to the telefund are other efforts to help out, including the annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign and programs and pledges to see that young children are not left out finding something under the tree on Christmas morning.
Every time we hear of a business closing, or moving operations elsewhere, a need to downsize, it means more strain on the local economy. One step away are the individuals and the families directly affected.
Next Christmas, the season after, and so on, we’ll hope to see the demand go down. But we can rest assured that the willingness to help out will remain strong.