For more than 50 years, Christmas Daddies has been putting smiles on children’s faces across the Maritimes.

The annual fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without the strong support of CTV Atlantic’s viewers.

This year, one group in Cape Breton is donating in memory of a dear friend, Jimmy Beaton, who always wanted to make sure all the children had a great Christmas.

“He loved Cape Breton entertainment, he loved to see who donated what, and he wanted to match it,” says Baddeck Legion President Laura Dixon, “he wanted to beat it, he wanted the legion to raise more money so the kids will have a good Christmas.”

Beaton was a 40 year member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

He died last December.

So as a way to keep their friend’s memory alive, a group at the Baddeck legion has been gathering donations for Christmas Daddies.

“When Jimmy died the family wanted to wait a little while to have his wake and funeral, because they wanted to have everyone together,” explains Dixon. “But the community wanted to gather and mourn his death. It was after Christmas Daddies last year, so the family said let’s get together, let’s have a fundraiser to celebrate his life and donate to Christmas Daddies.”

The gesture is touching for Sydney’s telethon producer, Mary Murphy.

Murphy has been producing the Cape Breton portion of Christmas Daddies for more than 40 years, but says this is a first for her.

“I found the story just heartwarming,” she says. “When I first heard it, and as I learned more, it just seemed to get better.”

Beaton passed away exactly one year ago Friday.

“We will do it every year in his memory,” says Dixon.

“I really hope it inspires other families to do similar fundraisers,” adds Murphy.

Laura Dixon says the group has raised $2,000 in their friend’s name.

“He loved children,” she says. “Anything he could do, he had grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. All of them went to Jimmy. If they wanted something they went to Jimmy, because he loved children and loved doing anything he could for them.”

Since Christmas Daddies’ first broadcast in 1964, the telethon has raised a total of over $28 million dollars for less fortunate children in the Maritimes.

This year’s Christmas Daddies is taking place Saturday, December 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on our main network, CTV.

With files CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.