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Winter Home Guide

Every year, thanks to the Santa Fund, West Nipissing fire fighters prepare hundreds of food hampers and children's gifts for local families, and deliver them just before Christmas.

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COVID can’t crush Christmas spirit

by Isabel Mosseler
Tribune

November 25, 2020

“It’s a challenge!” says Fire Chief Richard Maranda, but it’s a challenge this community can meet with everyone pulling together. Because of COVID-19, the annual Santa Fund Telethon will become a Radiothon, with help of Moose FM’s Drew Ferris going on air for 12 hours this Friday, November 27. Volunteer fire fighters will be manning the phones, and an online auction has already netted over $15,000 in bids, according to organizer Sophie Kmyta. A lot of people are coming together in new ways, ensuring “Christmas will not be crushed by COVID!”

For over 20 years, the Santa Fund Telethon has been held at the Marcel Noël Hall, with entertainment from performers of all ages, food and drink, volunteers manning the phones and residents dialling in donations to help buy food and toys for local families in need at Christmastime. This year, it’s yet another major event that has been ‘COVID-cancelled.’ Until the troops were called in.

Chief Maranda says that this year, the focus will be on memories of past telethons. “Drew [Ferris] interviewed a few of the previous MCs – so basically he’ll be [airing] those interviews. Other than that, there’s not much we can do. Nobody can go to the Moose studio to perform, so Drew is going to talk about helping the families. He’s interviewing John Dobbs for the English, Yvon Marleau and Serge Larabie for the French.”

And then there’s the all new West Nipissing Santa Fund Auction page on Facebook. Maranda says nearly 70 businesses “gave baskets of all different things. Even a mini 50cc 4-wheeler, and it’s already up to $2,500! Everything is already over the minimum bids. Sophie Kmyta spearheaded that and the volunteer fire fighters brought the letter to all the businesses… Sophie was terrific!”

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