Children’s voices raised in song (and for the most part, in harmony), will be heard once again over the airwaves of WQDY/WALZ radio Sunday, Nov. 27, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the 46th annual Santa’s Helpers program broadcast from the St. Stephen Middle School.
Organized by the dedicated members of the St. Stephen-Milltown Lions Club the event raises money to help the less fortunate families in western Charlotte County.
The phone number to call to make a pledge is 466-6333.
The Lions Club coordinates with the Volunteer Centre of Charlotte County, which operates the food bank in St. Stephen, to compile a list of those who may need help during the upcoming holiday season.
Last year, the program raised about $11,000, which was used to purchase vouchers to be redeemed at stores in western Charlotte County, where they could shop to prepare for Christmas.
Long time program organizers Ron Goodine, Garnet Allen and Bob Brown, say the program kicks off the Christmas season for them and the other club members.
“It’s all hands on deck for whatever needs to be done,” said Goodine. He and others help marshal the students on stage for their performances, Brown, Allen and Lion Roger Wheaton provide the commentary during the program and Lion Dave McFarlane will read the pledges phoned in by listeners or dropped off at the school during the broadcast. Members of the St. Stephen-Milltown Lionettes answer the pledge phones and provide support for their club-member spouses.
Goodine, Allen and Brown all encourage people to come and watch the students perform. While it’s nice to sit and relax in the comfort of your home and listen to the children, “it’s a lot more fun to be there,” said Brown with a chuckle.
“You don’t have the atmosphere if you’re just sitting home listening,” said Goodine, while Allen noted it’s very important for the children performing to see family members or people they know in the audience.
All three commented on the unexpected antics of the performers, especially the very young who sometimes are more interested in who’s watching them from the audience than they are in performing their songs.
Goodine said students from three area schools – Milltown Elementary School, St. Stephen Elementary School and Lawrence Station School – are scheduled to perform, along with students in daycares and pre-schools as well as students of various piano teachers in the region. The Kirk McColl junior choir will open the program as they have done traditionally in the past.
The men said Rob Sawyer from Cox Communications and Electronics will once again donate and operate the sound system for the program. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without him,” said Allen.
Allen said the need for help in the region is real.
“We make contact with our clients,” said Goodine. “Each year there’s four or five that are okay this year. They were struggling last year, but they got some relief someway, and they want us to give it to somebody who needs it worse than they do.”
Donations can be made before the program and pledges honoured after at Stationery Plus on Route 170, Stuarts Candy and Cards and Orchard’s Paint and Paper, both on Milltown Boulevard. Donations can also be mailed to Ron Goodine at 28 Abbott Street, St. Stephen, NB, E3L 3C4 or by calling 466-1601 for donations to be picked up.
In a letter requesting support for the program, Goodine stated: “We wish you all the best at this time of year and trust your generosity will enable us to help some less fortunate families have a very happy Christmas.”