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Since 2001, Ukrainian orphans have been treated to Happy Meals at McDonalds for Christmas, thanks to Loads of Love. The organizationТs local committee to date since 2004 has raised more than $99,000 for the project.
It's that time of year again.
Many people are gearing up for the holiday season and children in many areas are writing up their wish lists for Santa.
However, some children's wishes are much different than what one may hear in many parts of Canada, or even read in the pages of the Advertiser's letters to Santa.
That's why it is also the time of year that the local "Loads of Love" committee is holding its annual McJoyful Moose Burger and Bake Sale.
The 2011 fundraising event is the eighth annual.
It will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Windsor Pentecostal gymnasium, 97 King Street, Grand Falls-Windsor.
"There are all kinds of things available that day, with moose burgers, of course, being the number one item," said committee member Arlene Elliott.
Also on the menu are moose hearts, hot dogs, moose soup, turkey soup, chicken soup, beef soup, fish chowder, chili, baked beans, and all kinds of desserts.
"Plus we have the big bake sale where you and get all your Christmas goodies," Ms. Elliott said.
For every $15 raised, an orphan child in the Ukraine will get to go to McDonald's for Christmas and will be supplied with vitamins for a whole year.
There was $10,166 raised during the event last year, with a final total of $21,000 to support the cause. That's 1,400 children who had vitamins for the year, and a trip to McDonalds for Christmas.
"Last year was the best year ever," Ms. Elliott said. "To date, we have raised $99,143."
The group holds two fundraisers each year, one in the summer and McJoyful in December, which always coincides with the annual Grand Falls Lions Club Santa Claus Parade.
"After you are done the Santa Claus parade, hopefully, everybody will come by for a treat," Ms. Elliott said, adding the event is always co-ordinated around the annual parade. "The Lions Club has been great in handing out flyers. In the little treat bag they do up for the children, they put our advertisement for the day."
Loads of Love, which is a registered Canadian charity, has a rich history. Since 1996, Ed Dickson of Ontario has dedicated his life to helping abandoned children and forgotten seniors in the former Soviet Union.
Ms. Elliott said her husband, Barry Elliott, went on a mission trip with Mr. Dickson in 2000. At that time, Mr. Dickson decided to stay in the Ukraine, and he started Loads of Love in 2001. In that year, he found himself alone for the holidays wondering to himself what he was to do. Around that time, McDonalds opened restaurants where the elite would eat and he decided to take as many orphans as possible to the restaurant for Christmas. That year, he took 46 extremely excited orphaned children for Happy Meals.
Since then, Mr. and Ms. Elliott have been involved with the charity, and in 2004, started fundraising locally for Loads of Love.
Of course, this huge effort has not been undertaken alone, and Ms. Elliott said it would not be possible without the large number of dedicated volunteers and support from the community.
"We had a hunting lodge this year who supplied three quarters of moose," Ms. Elliott said. "So we have 952 moose burgers sitting in the deep freeze right now waiting for Saturday."
She added everything, all the food preparations, and work done the day of the event, is done by volunteers.
"It's too the point now where they expect us to call," Ms. Elliott said laughing. "It's never a problem getting people (to help out), they just love being part of it.
She added a company in town contacted her this year with some encouraging news.
"Some of the employees had been out to McJoyful in past years and were quite impressed with the event...so what they've decided to do this year is use it as their Christmas party for their employees and their families," she said, adding they are going to give the approximately 50 employees and their families vouchers for the event.
Even more impressive, the local event is the biggest contributor to the nation-wide project.
"Last year we provided over half the funds for the project (in the Ukraine)," she said. "Ed says Сyou Newfoundlanders never cease to amazing me.'"
And Ms. Elliott said she is hoping for a wonderful outcome again this year, adding the reason she has continued to fundraise for this long is for the children.
"The need is still there and it is as big as ever," Ms. Elliott said. "For children who get absolutely no treats all year, it's a very big deal for them to know that there are people in the world who love them, because in their world, for most of them, they have nobody who loves them."
There are also gift cards available for anyone who would like to sponsor a child for a cost of $15 per child for the McJoyful project, which Ms. Elliott said would make great gifts of stocking stuffers. Anyone interested in sponsoring a child can call 486-5334.