helping hands

Michelle Wolthers and Joanne MacMaster started a Facebook page to post Christmas wishes from families in need and ask for help. (CBC)

Two women are using social media to connect strangers with their neighbours in need.

Michelle Wolthers and Joanne MacMaster have only met in person a few times. But online, the Porters Lake, N.S., women make a powerful team.

It started in September when they saw families struggling to get their kids ready for school.

Wolthers asked a local website for help.

"I had gift cards and food and bags and bags and boxes of food and clothes and toys and just school supplies. It was just unbelievable," she said.

In December, the social media Santas started a Facebook page called Helping Hands.

They post Christmas wishes from families and ask for help.

"We've had a number of people donate cash amounts, or they've gone to the store and actually picked up the item for us to give to the family. It's really worked out really well. It's been overwhelming, the community support that we've had. They've been very generous."

One family told CBC News that thanks to Helping Hands, “We can have Christmas now.”

A local hockey team adopted one family.  

"The five children have all the toys, clothes, stocking stuffers — you wouldn't believe the stuff that came within the first few hours," said Wolthers.

Businesses have helped as well.

"Our community is just amazing. Within two hours of me posting on that site a local woman had brought just bags and bags of brand-new toys and chocolates and stocking stuffers. The response is just overwhelming."

MacMaster says social media can bring out the best in people.

"I think a lot of times, people, they want to give, they want to have the opportunity to help out a family, but they don't know where to begin. I think this page will be, and the website, will be a good aid in that."

With a sleigh full of presents, Wolthers is off to deliver more Christmas cheer.