The group once again made Christmas a happier time for families in need during the season. Group members assisted 41 families with food at Christmas with special dinners as well as gifts such as clothing, toys, toiletries, and other needed items.
Many of the families included children so the grand total helped this Christmas was 106 people. Tatamagouche is well known as a caring community and as well as the lodge members' efforts, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 64 assisted six families and 10 families were sponsored by groups or individuals. Many gifts for the families were items given as donations form the community.
Several recommendations were made by lodge members as they discussed the 2015 season, including they continue with the Christmas Index Program for the 2016 upcoming year, to apply for charitable status for the Tatamagouche Oddfellows so individuals can be given income tax receipts and that community individuals wishing to submit a name for the Christmas Index Program fill out an application to the best of their ability so that the lodge may have a better picture of the community needs.
As the members spoke of the past year, all agreed the lodge does its best to fulfill its motto of "friendship, love and truth." In looking back to 2008 when the local lodge had its first open house, there were 22 members and now that number has grown to 44 in 2015. The ages of the current members range from 21 to 75 and come from all walks of life and all have different talents to aid in the lodge projects. The framed charter of the first members is dated in 1912.
Many years ago, Alice MacRae and her family operated the Christmas Index Program in the Tatamagouche area. In a recent interview, she said at that time she was a member of the Children's Aid Society out of Truro and those in need in Tatamagouche were expected to go to Truro to get help. Since she pointed out to the executive director of the board at that time, Harvey MacArthur, that most in need had no way to getting in to Truro, she was asked to look after the North Shore. As well as seeing those in need received help, she was very grateful to all the people who donated groceries, made quilts for fundraising, the churches who gave money to the index and everyone who helped with transporting the items to those who needed them.
"We especially were grateful to the many mail drivers who would take boxes along their mail routes," said MacRae.
She and her family looked after helping those in need for more than 40 years and she is pleased to see Odd Fellows members continue with the tradition.
Ellen Millard is a historian, author and longtime resident of Sand Point, near Tatamagouche. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.