One of the best parts of the holidays is when everyday people play Santa, not only by lavishing gifts upon those they know and love, but by opening up their hearts, cupboards, closets and pocket books to those in need.

If your financial cup runneth over this season or if you find yourself with some extra non-perishable goods and clothes around the house that are not being used anymore, there are a whole bevy of organizations, community groups and charitable groups that can put your contributions to good use.

If you want to help out the less fortunate, read on: the Nation has prepared a unique giving guide for help you help those who can’t help themselves. From cash donations to food drives to toy collections to caribou hunts for the needy, there are so many ways that you can help out this season and make it brighter for those who are less fortunate.

Local drives in the communities

Led by Santa Claus on his sleigh, the Chisasibi Fire and Public Security Departments have already launched their annual donation drive. The band office has also been collecting for their annual food bank campaign. Those who are looking to contribute can contact the band office at (819) 855-2878.

In Eastmain, the local wellness centre is co-ordinating a holiday food drive. Collection boxes can be found at the Northern Store, the grocery store, SG depanneur, Stacy Sports & Crafts and the band office as well as the wellness centre. The deadline for donations is December 14. For more information call (819) 977-2000.

The annual Wreath of Hope Campaign is underway in Mistissini, organized by the Meechum grocery store. Last year the campaign surpassed its goal of $25,000 by $3,000 to help needy families not just at Christmas but throughout the year. This year’s goal is again $25,000, but when it comes to organizations that help those in need in your community, more is always better. The Wreath of Hope Campaign will be collecting food and monetary and toy donations. Meechum will be accepting donations all the way up to December 20. For more information, call (418) 923-3217.

In Nemaska, Brenda Rose at the band office is accepting cash among other donations to help pay for activities for the whole community. They also distribute donated gift baskets for singleparent families and toys for less fortunate children. As the community regularly accepts items to raffle off at the New Year’s party, businesses are encouraged to give just about anything they want, from new tires to oil changes, as all of the funds generated from the raffle go right back into offsetting community activities for the holidays. Anyone looking to make a contribution should contact Brenda Rose at (819) 673-2512.

The people of Ouje-Bougoumou have all kinds of activities going on this holiday season to help out not only the disadvantaged of their own community but also those of the nearby Anishnabe

First Nation of Lac Simon. The Police Department is handling the local food and toy drive with collection boxes at the Fire Department and at the local band office. The local Women’s Ministry is also collecting money, clothing, gift certificates for grocery stores and other non-perishable items.

Lac Simon has a high rate of poor children who need toys, clothes and food to help brighten their holidays. O-J is also looking to other Cree communities for assistance in this endeavour. The band office, in conjunction with the Women’s Ministry, is also accepting donations to go towards Christmas turkeys for needy families.

O-J will also be conducting two caribou hunts to harvest meat for hungry families locally and in Lac Simon. The Police Department will host the first hunt December 15 while the second will be organized by the cultural department December 22 for the benefit of Lac Simon families. For more information, contact the band office, the police, the cultural department or the women’s ministry.

In Waswanipi, Gloria Joly is in charge of charitable activities through National Child Benefit Services. To contribute or for more information call her at (819) 753-2450. Bianca Albert is organizing the local food drive; call (819) 753-2828.

The band office in Whapmagoostui is conducting their local collection at the band office. A collection box can be found there to collect everything from food to toys to second-hand clothing.

No information was available on the community of Waskaganish due to a recent flooding in the band office. No information was available for Wemindji at press time.

Outside of the communities there are other ways to help out needy urban Aboriginals. The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal is chronically underfunded. Though they do receive government support, it is never enough to help out the women and children who arrive on the group’s doorstep, fleeing desperate and often violent situations. The best way to help the shelter is with monetary donations, though they always welcome clothing for women and children, from new-born sizes up to women’s plus sizes. Cheques can be made out to Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and the address to mail them is as follows:

PO. Box 1183, Station A

Montreal, Quebec

H3C 2Y3

For more information:

The Native Friendship Centre of Montreal also helps many marginalized aboriginals in the Montreal area. They need just about everything under the sun, from funding to toys for kids to food to blankets. In that the Friendship Centre runs a gamut of programs, from support groups to community meals to the street outreach programs, they can use a wide variety of items. Have a look at the different items that can be contributed at or call (514) 499-1854.