Sydney group collects decorations to brighten flood victims' holidays

The United Way in Sydney has been accepting donations of Christmas lights, trees, ornaments and other seasonal decorations for people who may have lost them in the Thanksgiving Day flood.

United Way says many people lost Christmas decorations when basements flooded

The United Way says it is arranging for flood victims to pick up the donated decorations on Thursday. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Some flood victims in Cape Breton who lost their Christmas charms, wreaths and garlands will still be able to deck their halls this year, thanks to the generosity of others.

The United Way has been accepting donations of Christmas lights, trees, ornaments and other seasonal decorations. By the end of the day Tuesday, donations covered ten two-and-a-half metre-long tables and spilled over on the floor and window sills of the drop-off area in the Round Room of Sydney's Civic Centre.

The organization's executive director said flood waters destroyed the contents of many basements, where people often store their Christmas ornaments and decorations. Lynn McCarron said she's been hearing from families that are feeling stressed.

"A lot of parents of small children, the children are worried. A lot of them have completely lost their home, so their kids are worried about where Santa's going to come."

Stressful holiday season

McCarron said the goal is to reduce some of that stress at a time when many families are still working to get back on track in terms of their most basic needs, such as a fridge and washer and beds.

"This isn't considered a basic need, but it's certainly something that's very important to a lot of young families."

Lynn McCarron, executive director of the United Way of Cape Breton, says she's been hearing from families who are worried about the holiday season. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Joan Wadden of Main a Dieu, N.S., was one of the first to drop off a bag of donations, including a child's Christmas tea set.

"I heard it on the radio yesterday and I thought, well I do have things I really don't need, that other people could use. It would be nice to have them have something for Christmas," she said.

Donations from flood victims

With help from Canadian Mental Health Association members, the United Way has been receiving and sorting the items. People have dropped off wreaths, tree ornaments and kitchen decorations such as runners and decorative plates. 

"There have been so many great donations," United Way worker Kaitlyn Strickland said.

"There actually have been a lot of people who have been affected by the flood themselves but have had decorations stored in places that weren't affected by the water. So they were people that understand what people are going through," Strickland said.

The United Way plans to get in touch with flood victims on Wednesday to arrange for pickup of the items on Thursday.

Heaps of wreaths and other seasonal ornaments covered ten large tables by the end of day Tuesday. (Holly Conners/CBC)