Christmas Crew in crisis: Cape Breton dinner drive in jeopardy due to pandemic
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- A ten-year tradition that brightens the Christmas season for Cape Breton families in need is in trouble, as volunteers and donors struggle to make ends meet themselves.
‘The Christmas Crew’ provides holiday dinner for 300 families in the Glace Bay area every Christmas season.
But this year, organizers say they just can’t afford to make it happen.
“When you knock on a door to deliver groceries to a family, and you see the thanks and the hugs, and the kids screaming ‘ice cream, ice cream!’… and to now know that we’re not going to be able to do that is absolutely breaking my heart,” says organizer John White.
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.
“I think of the families that we’re delivering to, and how we made Christmas possible for 1200 or however many people that are sitting down for Christmas dinner,” says White. “That’s my gift to myself every Christmas, and to think that’s not going to happen this year… it’s like Christmas isn’t coming.”
Usually at this time of year, the Glace Bay fire hall is decorated and ready for the Christmas Crew auction fundraiser. But on Tuesday, the hall was completely empty.
White says many businesses in the area are hurting financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and were unable to donate auction items for the fundraiser.
Without fundraisers like the auction, the Christmas Crew is in crisis, and wondering how they’ll raise enough money to feed families this year.
“I don’t know how many years it has been, but they’re a godsend,” says Jeanette MacDonald, whose family relies on the donated dinner. “It makes it easier if you get a helping hand, that’s all I know.”
Statistics say nearly 40 per cent of children living in Glace Bay are living in poverty.
“Typically what we do is we go to Glace Bay High and we have community groups come in and teach team building,” says White. “We show the kids that you can help, and you can get involved, and there’s something you can do. All those lessons are gone this year.”
White says he has a month to raise more than $20,000 to be able to feed those in need.
The group has setup a GoFundMe, hoping for a Christmas miracle for a group trying to do good for their community.