GLACE BAY, N.S. -- A Cape Breton holiday fundraiser will go ahead this year, thanks to the kind hearts of the community.

For ten years, Glace Bay’s ‘Christmas Crew’ has made spirits brighter, delivering food and gifts to Cape Breton families that needed a little extra help.

But this year, the tradition was in trouble, and it was the community that passed on the gift of giving.

John White says he felt like Santa Claus, as he delivered the news that his annual holiday fundraiser would go ahead after all.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” says White. “When we did our last interview, I figured the Christmas Crew was not happening this year.”

Carol Guthro says she never would have been able to make it through last Christmas without the help of the ‘Christmas Crew’.

“Yes, it would have been a little hard because money was tight,” says Guthro. “They provided me with a few gifts for my boys and my grandson, and a full complete dinner.”

Many businesses in the area are hurting financially because of COVID-19 and were unable to donate items, leaving the Christmas Crew in limbo.

Two weeks ago, White made a plea for help on CTV Atlantic, and from there the kindness of strangers took over.

White says the money was raised within days, with offers of assistance coming from across the country.

“People are replying to me how happy they are, and how much it made their Christmas,” says White. “I have phone messages from people actually crying to see that it’s going to happen now.”

White and his wife started the tradition nearly a decade ago.

They would pick up a few groceries and drop them off to a Glace Bay family that could use the help around the holidays.

Since then, the tradition has grown, and so too has the need, with more than 300 homes on the list this Christmas.

White says the cost to feed and provide gifts for 300 families is approximately $20,000.

“One of the goals of mine was to turn the Christmas Crew into a community event, not a John White event,” says White. “This year, I see that’s exactly what happened. When I stood in front of you two weeks ago and said, ‘this wasn’t going to happen’, the community stepped up and said ‘oh, yes it is!’.

White says donations have actually exceeded their goal, and now there are plans to help out beyond the holiday season.

“One thing I know as a teacher, is that a lot of kids have no hats and mittens,” says White. “So we’re talking about putting a tree in each of the local schools with hats and mittens, come January.”

An opportunity to make the holidays a little merrier for some Maritime families in need.