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Don Diego's delivers gifts bought and collected for the Salvation Army to distribute
REPORTING · 17th December 2011
Merv Ritchie
The spirit of Christmas, to the chagrin of many, begins months before the 25th of December. It isn’t the mass marketing machine, commercials and songs on the radio, it is the spirit of compassion in the hearts of those who care. It takes planning, months of planning, to find the special ways to make all the children feel the love and joy they all deserve.

Christian or non-Christian, it is the Salvation Army we can all witness as the heart of this compassion. Volunteers and entrepreneurs all turn to the ‘Sally Ann’ to help them complete their dreams of sharing. Whether it is the “Big Bad Leathered Bike Riders” (softies all of them) planning their “Toy Run” and ride through town or the business owner wanting to contribute, everyone almost without exception turns to the ever present Salvation Army.

The classic scene is the man and/or woman in the red Santa hat standing next to the Christmas Kettle outside the doors of the local shopping malls but what happens months before is the real action.

Besides the Toy Run many business owners begin putting forward their names to help anonymously. They might suggest how many families or what size of family they could help. For privacy and dignity, none of these businesses are told who they helped and the families do not know which business sponsored them. In fact, only three people ever see the names. The Salvation Army begins collecting names of families and individuals they could assist. This year they are assisting over 1630 people, which includes just under 700 children. The distribution of the months of gathering began last week.

The amount of imagination and spirit that builds up throughout the year is heart warming. The Thornhill Junior Secondary School Shop program built very stylish and classy Sleds, Jewellery boxes and play blocks for special gifts. Classrooms of students from other schools painted canvasses supplied by Don Diegos to be sold to raise more money for gifts. Suwilaawks Community School, known as being one of the most disadvantaged school populations in Terrace raised just pennies under $2300 by holding their annual Christmas Bazaar. All of this including the gathering of gifts for the toy run begins long before the leaves start to fall from the trees, long before the carving of Thanksgiving Turkeys and the carving of pumpkins for Halloween.

It is the Spirit of Christmas and it is not twelve days. For many it is twelve months and it is this spirit, the true spirit of Christmas, the Love, Respect and Compassion that bonds all of humanity, the human spirit is the Christmas Spirit. We are all blessed, each and every one.
Wooden crafts by the Thornhill students
Wooden crafts by the Thornhill students
Gifts packaged and ready to go to families in the Terrace area, note the box of gift cards for food.
Gifts packaged and ready to go to families in the Terrace area, note the box of gift cards for food.
Paintings done by local area children for sale at Don Diegos for funds to purchase gifts
Paintings done by local area children for sale at Don Diegos for funds to purchase gifts
Suwilaawk Students, Frt L to R: Elijah Azak, Jagdeep Dhillon  Back: Lillian Robinson, Rian Hartness, Ms Belinda Johnston (Australian exchange teacher), Oshan McDonald, Gurleen Dhesi, and Douglas Guno
Suwilaawk Students, Frt L to R: Elijah Azak, Jagdeep Dhillon Back: Lillian Robinson, Rian Hartness, Ms Belinda Johnston (Australian exchange teacher), Oshan McDonald, Gurleen Dhesi, and Douglas Guno