10 Wednesday December 2 2015 NORTHERNERS CHRISTMAS By CRAIG GILBERT The giving has begun in Fort McMurray where a pair of announcements last week lead to 85000 finding its way to those in need. Syncrude started its annual Wood Buffalo Food Bank Drive with a donation of 75000. Along with the corporate donation about 150 Syncrude employees volunteer every year at more than 10 grocery stores across Fort Mc- Murray collecting non-perishable food items and donations. The food drive helps support Wood Buffalo residents meet their immediate food needs while working towards long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. The support we receive from Syncrude each year helps Wood Buffalo Food Bank executive director Arianna Johnson said in a press release. Our citizens and children never have to make the choice between a roof and food. Since its inaugural event in 2005 Syn- crude has supported the food bank through 702376 in funding support in-kind dona- tions and volunteer matching. The Wood Buf- falo Food Bank looks to raise 360000 and 75000 pounds of food in this years drive. During these difficult economic times the food bank needs our support more than ever Syncrude president and CEO Mark Ward said. I would like to thank all volunteers including our employees who are taking part in this drive and challenge the community to give what they can to make this holiday season enjoyable for all families. H. Wilson Industries pick-up trucks will be stationed outside all grocery stores and Wal-Mart on Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cuddle up for charity The Helping Assist Local Organizations So- ciety HALOS meanwhile donated 10000 to the Centre of Hope described as a wor- thy local non-profit making a positive impact Spirit of the season picks up in Fort McMurray NORTHERNERS CHRISTMAS within our community through its 100 Hearts program. The 100 Hearts Program brings 100 com- munity-minded women together to give back to the place they call home. The program is a ladies network group aimed at support- ing local charities and causes that need extra assistance. The women are tasked with voting for a non-profit that could use a helping hand. This donation will help our organiza- tion with laundry services for patrons of the Centre of Hope communication of- ficer Barb Rex said. Wed also like to ex- press our gratitude for each and every special lady who cast her vote for us. This means so much especially during this time of the year. The donation was announced at the third event in an annual series. The group also un- veiled a new fundraising teddy bear named HALO at a small Christmas bazaar at the get together. HALO is a special angel bear from the Teddy Mountain collection that will be sold locally and all proceeds will be donated to keeping local homeless in our community warm this season committee member Deb- bie Hahn explained. HALOS was formed in 2014 to support non-profits in Fort McMurray. All 10 local non-profits were selected through applica- tions made to the HALOS organization. To apply to the list of eligible non-profits visit www.halosfm.com. HALOS donated 10000 to the Centre of Hope in Fort McMurray on Nov. 24. PhotocourtesyofHALOS By DALI CARMICHAEL The man fondly known in Fort Smith as Santa MacClaus passed away at the end of November but volunteers are ensuring his legacy will live on through the shim- mering Christmas float that tours the town every December. Duncan Doug MacPherson 67 formerly of Fort Smith before retiring to Arizona for the winters was working on a southern ver- sion of his famous float - powered with a golf cart - when he hit his head falling into a coma from which he would not wake. Sur- vived by his wife Carol four children and 12 grandchildren he died Nov. 18. I think when he was doing that he felt like he was Santa because he was bring- ing good tidings and cheer to everybody around town and I feel like its a tradition that not very many communities have said Mike Labine who apprenticed under MacPherson and has since taken over the festive operation. He was doing the same thing down there it was good to know that he went doing something he loved. In the 1980s MacPherson fired up his first Christmas float using an ATV and a small trailer to pull the town mascot - a half moose half buffalo called the Muf- faloose - past every house. You cant imagine the feeling when we stop in front of the houses and they all run to the window or want a ride and wave and yell or the kids run over to the float and give Santa a letter Labine said. It just really touches the heart. A carpenter for three decades MacPher- son once acknowledged in a past interview with the Journal that he was Christmas- crazy. Every year he fervently worked on the float making it a little better. Upgrades included everything from expansion of the trailer bed to accommodate more decora- tions to new sound systems to an ever-in- creasing number of lights and generators to power the whole thing. The Santa float for him was I think an escape from day-to-day activities and it was really important that anything that was done on there was done to the best of his abili- ties Labine said. I remember going there and helping him put lights on and he was very for a lack of a better term persnick- ity about getting them on just right. He spent a lot of time. The care and attention that he put towards that float was unreal. Labine has since streamlined the opera- tion upgrading from incandescent bulbs to LED lights which help him cut back to just one generator and supplying the rotation of volunteers who dress up as the Clauses with electric heating blankets to keep warm on those -40 nights touring through town. He was even set to display a new blow- up Muffaloose at the front of the sleigh this year but decided against it at the last minute. Carol had asked if we could wait on putting the new Muffaloose in front of the sleigh and use the one that Duncan had cut out Labine said. Were going to have the sled this year with the original Muffaloose pulling and the new Muffa- loose that we raised money for last year behind us basically to learn the ropes and see how its done. Next year hell move up to the front. Thanks to volunteers from Lous Small Engines Phoenix Auto the corrections fa- cility and some handy painters and welders the float has been refurbished complete with a new bunch of carefully placed LEDs. MacPhersons son Craig and his wife Kim will have the honour of playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the first night of the float tour on Dec. 6 and the final evening in memory of MacClaus. Also on Dec. 6 the Northern Life Mu- seum and Cultural Centre will open its exhibition A Very Fort Smith Christmas complete with a detailed history of Mac- Santas sleigh compiled by one of the jol- liest guys in town Mike Keizer. I think its important that we dont for- get about the people who set up stuff that is special to our town Labine said. Fort Smith community says goodbye to Santa MacClaus PhotocourtesyofCarolMacPherson Christmas carols that carry on the Fort Smith evening air in December will be a tribute Santa MacClaus as Duncan MacPherson was fondly called. He died after striking his head in Arizona two weeks ago. The Santa float he created will honour his memory.