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A Lion's share of generosity

Repulse students receive annual Christmas cheer from the South

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Jan 15/03) - Despite the commercialism surrounding our modern Christmas, there are still acts of generosity to be found that show the spirit of the season is alive and well.

The Edmonton City of Champions Lions Club has been spreading a little Christmas spirit among Repulse Bay students for the past 10 years.

Tusarvik school teacher Leonie Aissaoui says Lions Club member Rick Jackman makes contact with the school about six or seven weeks before Christmas every year.

Aissaoui provides the Edmonton club with a list of students registered at the school, including their age and sex, and the gifts are quickly on their way.

The school received more than 200 presents for its students this year.

The program actually started when Aissaoui was working at Fort Good Hope.

The club was sending Christmas gifts to each and every child in the community, including newborns.

The school in Fort Good Hope would hold a Christmas concert and Santa Claus would show up to present the gifts, including those for the kids too young to attend school.

When Aissaoui moved to Repulse, she phoned the Lions Club and asked if it would consider extending its generosity to include students at Tusarvik school.

The gifts have been arriving ever since.

"The club wraps all the gifts in Christmas paper before sending them, with the person's name marked on the wrapping for whom it is intended," says Aissaoui.

"Santa goes from class to class handing out the gifts, and students volunteer to work as his little helpers for a day."

Students and staff at the school go to great lengths to show their appreciation to the club for its generosity.

Every year the club receives a combination of pictures of the kids receiving their presents, letters from the students about their gifts and the occasional video and drawing from the school.

This year Aissaoui made a video of the kids with their gifts to send to club members, as well as town footage.

"Rick (Jackman) still hopes one day he will get to come up and visit Repulse Bay.

"He's also very kind towards our staff here.

"Whenever any of our teachers go down to Edmonton for a conference or a workshop, he always volunteers to drive them around the city and show them all the sights."