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Secret Santa's little helpers

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 11/06) - Some people put an extra personal touch on donations to Christmas collections for needy people.

Instead of simply buying a toy or some other item, they take the time to create handmade crafts which will be given away to strangers.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Katie Nimegeers donates knitted hats to Hay River's Secret Santa, a Christmas collection for needy families. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Katie Nimegeers donates traditional Inuit knitted hats to Secret Santa, a community organization which has distributed Christmas hampers for over a dozen years in Hay River.

Nimegeers said she first donated some of the hats to Secret Santa last year.

"That's what I'd like to do from now on," she said.

The tasselled hats are based on what's known as Pangnirtung hats, although there are some differences.

Nimegeers donated a half dozen last year, and expects to donate at least nine more this Christmas.

The knitted hats are what remains from a Christmas craft sale in Hay River. Some are plain, while others have "Hay River" or "NWT" knitted into the design. Others could have personal names, which Nimegeers prepared for special orders. If they are not picked up, they will also be donated to Secret Santa.

"I could still sell them, but I would rather give them away," she said. "My parents were very giving people and that was passed down to me."

Nimegeers is originally from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, but has lived in Hay River for 14-years.

Edna Dow, the co-ordinator of Secret Santa, said other people occasionally donate handmade items.

Last year, someone dropped off a doll with handmade knitted clothes, including a bonnet.

"It was specially made to give away to some little girl. It was gorgeous," Dow said.

In the last few years, other handmade donations have included two pairs of beaded moosehide slipp-ers, knitted cushions, necklaces, and a quilt for a child's bed.

Dow said many of the items are simply beautiful.

She explained that many people like to do something different and unique for their Christmas donations. "It gives them joy. They just love doing it."

Often the handcrafted items are donated anonymously, she noted. "People just drop them off and they don't leave a name."

Dow said people often simply make a donation, say "Merry Christmas" and walk away.