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Nicole Kringayark of Repulse Bay is all smiles receiving her gift from Santa Claus as Santašs helper, Marsha Kringuk, gets a present ready for the next child on the Christmas list. - photo courtesy of Leonie Aissaoui

Santa and friends

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Jan 19/05) - Youth in Repulse Bay were treated to a little extra Christmas cheer, thanks once again to the good will of the Edmonton City of Champions Lions Club.

The club sent more than 200 presents for students at Tusarvik school and kids attending the day care.

The 2004 gift delivery marked the 12th straight year the Lions Club has helped brighten Christmas on the Bay.

Principal Leonie Aissaoui says the annual arrival of the Christmas presents is always highly anticipated by students at Tusarvik school.

She says even Santa Claus takes time away from his hectic schedule to travel to Repulse Bay and help hand out the gifts, aided by the good work of local elf in training, Marsha Kringuk.

"Instead of having Santa go from class to class as in years past, this year we set up a Christmas tree in an area of the school hallway and had all the gifts laid out nicely beneath it," says Aissaoui.

"We even had the day-care children over to get their gifts during Santa's visit, so it was a nice experience everyone seemed to enjoy."

Every year, the Lions Club contacts the school a couple of months before Christmas and Aissaoui provides its members with a list of registered students at the school, along with their age and sex.

A few weeks later, the presents arrive at the school all wrapped in Christmas paper with the student's name for whom it is intended marked on the wrapping.

Tusarvik's staff and students take the time to thank the Lions Club every year for its help by sending a package to Edmonton with photos of the kids with their gifts and letters from the students.

And, almost every year, at least one student pens a classic reply. "This year, we had one student receive a Thermos for his Christmas present, which was a beautiful gift.

"He wrote back thanking the Lions Club members for the gift, which he really enjoys, but told them a knife for hunting would have been more useful to him.

"That says a lot for how importantly our kids view helping their families, when you consider he's only in Grade 6."