By Leslie Knibbs
SAGAMOK ANISHNAWBEK – “This Christmas has been the most hectic of all my 60 years so far. But without a doubt it has been one of the most loving holidays that I can remember,” said Janet Owl.
At a Christmas dinner funded through the “Sharing and Caring” program in Sagamok, Raymond Owl asked everyone to reflect on those who live in the city streets, the homeless and hungry, and those alone at this time of year. In his opening prayer, he asked everyone to give thanks for the love we are able to share, for the food shared, and for the evening of Caring and Sharing. “Each person here cares enough to share their time and company tonight.” Being mindful of the needs of others is never overlooked in this caring community.
Raymond and wife Janet hosted a dinner for 40 some citizens of Sagamok Anishnawbek. Through the “Sharing and Caring” program, a privately funded volunteer holiday campaign designed to bring happiness to those in need for Christmas day, the Owls and many volunteers put together an evening of good food, much fun and gift giving at the new Community Hall.
Orion Southwind and Ray Bennett provided transportation to and from the dinner for those needing it. Vicky Harrington and Marjorie Taylor assisted in wrapping gifts and making treat bags and food hampers for everyone. Each teen attending was given a stocking with oranges, apples, hard candy and gifts like boots, sweaters, as well as hand made items like scarves Mitts hats. Elders got boots, lined jeans, shirts, sweaters, socks, gloves and food hampers. Raymond Owl and wife Janet Owl, dressed in Santa Claus suits, handed out gifts to all those attending.
Money to cover expenses comes from a group of philanthropists down south according to Owl, all wishing to remain anonymous. The budget for the event is usually around six thousand dollars. “Raymond and Janet Owl have been volunteer elves for this project for the past seven years servicing community members of Sagamok with gifts and food hampers. The shopping, wrapping and delivering has typically been provided by volunteers from family, teachers, the fire department and Anishinabek Police Service,” according to Caring and Sharing.
“This evening was amazing at the sharing and caring feast and I was so touched that she (Janet Owl) took time out of the holidays to put on such a wonderful evening for the youth and elders,” said one of those attending. The goal of creating a space for elders and youth to socialize and interact was achieved this year at the Caring and Sharing Christmas Dinner. And yes, there were leftovers for anyone wanting to take food home. The evening was hugely successful with much merriment, singing and socializing between the young and the old. With the assistance of family members and others from the community, once again Sagamok proved itself a community of warm and caring people.