Grinch outdone by community in St. Mary’s

·3 min read

SHERBROOKE – As members of the Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS) learned this past week, Christmas spirit cannot be stolen.

No sooner had an overnight grinch made off with the Christmas tree Guysborough-Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow had presented on behalf of the province to the organization for people with special needs, an even finer one appeared practically the next day, Dec. 13 – this time entirely thanks to the personal generosity of the local representative, his wife and daughters.

“It all started out so good and everybody was so happy, and then it was all so bad and everyone was feeling down,” said SHOPS Executive Director Mallori Nickerson. “But it ended up so really good, and everyone is feeling even better. It’s quite a story.”

The story began in early December when, in his capacity as the province’s Minister of Agriculture, Morrow chose SHOPS in Sherbrooke as his department’s official tree recipient this year.

“It’s sort of a nice tradition just to put [these groups] in the limelight and shine a light on what they do,” he said in a phone interview. “There’s lots of deserving organizations out there and SHOPS is one of them. They do good work all year round.”

For Morrow, the decision to recognize SHOPS was also personal. “I had a brother with developmental issues,” he said. “That’s kind of why I had them in mind when it came time to donate the tree. It was important to me.”

Seeing the tree vanish also hit close to home. “I don't want to jump to any conclusions,” he said. “I like to believe that people are, for the most part, good. But anyway, yeah, it was gone. And that was disappointing.”

Nickerson said the community rallied almost immediately. “Right away, our handyman Jasper [Jordan] told us to go pick out a tree and the school [St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy] principal Mike [MacIsaac] also told us to go pick out a tree. ‘You’re not going to pay for it,’ he said.”

Meanwhile, as SHOPS clients shopped for a replacement, Morrow’s wife Sue and their two daughters arrived with a brand-new evergreen and more. Said Nickerson: “They delivered not just a beautiful Christmas tree, but they also bought us lights to go on it and a tree stand. And the girls made a card and [brought] chocolate. It was absolutely beautiful.”

From devastation to delight, the experience was an emotional roller-coaster ride for SHOPS, which provides community engagement and programming to help about eight clients strengthen their intellectual, physical and emotional well-being. But, said Nickerson, it was also “a learning experience for our participants…the community really did come together.”

What’s more, she added: “We have two trees now.”

As the narrator says in the animated 1966 television special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas: “Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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