You hear the same thing each year as the holiday season rolls around: “Show your generosity, give non-perishable food! We’re putting together Christmas baskets for needy families!” While some food drives get prominent media coverage, other community initiatives are often organized out of the limelight. We were especially touched by one of them this year.
It was December 17. I got off at Saint-Laurent Blvd., in the heart of Montréal’s Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie borough. My destination: the Maisonnette des Parents. A throng of volunteers was already waiting inside, like elves ready to load their boss’s sleigh. Except it was actually the opposite: they were awaiting the arrival of a truck already filled to the brim with toys.
There it was. A human chain formed instantly. Volunteers were quick to empty the truck: 170 bags of presents were carried to a room inside. Toys galore!
There was an aura of plenty in the air. However, these multicolored packages were destined for children who do not live in abundance.
The toys were not to remain there for long. Starting in the afternoon, parents from less fortunate families would come and pick up bags to bring home. Without the support of the Maisonnette des Parents, they could not give their children presents like these for Christmas.
It all started 14 years ago…
In 1998, our colleague Johanne Fournier watched a TV report on the Maisonnette des Parents. The following Christmas, she contacted the CBC to retrace the organization whose name she’d forgotten and which had so charmed her. Ever since then (for 14 years!), Johanne’s office at Cascades – Candiac fills up with presents as the holidays approach. She volunteers to help the toy drive every year by collecting toys and donations and giving some of her time.
Cascaders Daniele Seguin and Marjolaine Boucher admire Johanne’s generosity. That’s why they nominated her in a new contest launched by Cascades in 2012: the “Socio-Hero” initiative, which shines the spotlight on employees who make a difference by getting involved in their community. As you’ve probably guessed, Johanne was one of the winners! She received a $1,000 prize for the charitable organization of her choice. If the present bags seemed more numerous and filled-out this year, it’s partly because Johanne decided to give her check to the Maisonnette des Parents.
The sharing spirit is contagious
“I’m not alone in this adventure,” Johanne says. “I’m surrounded by wonderful elves who are faithful to me each year, and have been since the beginning. All this is possible thanks to their support and involvement, and thanks to all the Cascaders who bring toys or give money to fund our shopping trips. This is all teamwork, and we can all be very proud! Thank you, everyone!”
The real Christmas miracle
Johanne, her faithful elves and the Maisonnette des Parents team brighten the Christmas of many children. At a time when many are questioning the true meaning of the holiday, it seemed to make perfect sense, that day, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Isn’t that kind of unifying generosity the real Christmas miracle?