POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 17 PANS in the community Amherst Police Servicecontinued By Brian Gairns Santa’s Helpers Rob Kelly, Const. Caitlin MacKenzie, Const. Kevin Girouard, SSgt. Brian Gairns, Restorative Justice employees Jennifer Furlong, Natasha Galloway and Katelyn Scott and Autumn House representative Amanda Dynes gather around the Christmas gifts the police department and Cumberland Restorative Justice donated to Autumn House to help two needy families. Sometimes even Santa needs help. This year, Amherst Police Department and Cumberland Restorative Justice employees came to his aid, as they have for the past several years, by helping him deliver Christmas to two needy families via the folks at Autumn House. “What they’re doing is simply amazing,” said Autumn House spokesperson Amanda Dynes. “They are helping families who are in transition, who had to leave in a hurry. Some literally have nothing but a fork. They wouldn’t be able to have Christmas without the support of people like them.” SSgt. Brian Gairns said the department began working with Autumn House about a decade ago to make sure a family in need had a Christmas. About three years after they started, the folks at Restorative Justice joined the effort. “We don’t knowwho the family or families are and we do not want to know,”Gairns said. “We’re just told by Autumn House the makeup of the family. This year there were two families. One a mother with two girls, aged 2 and 4, the other a single momwith a 10-monthold child. Autumn House provides us with a Santa List and we do our best to fill it,” Gairns said. The police department members do this by making donations. “We put up an envelope in November and collect donations from the officers and staff,” the staff sergeant said. The employees over at Cumberland Restorative Justice do the same. The funds they raise are matched by a contribution from their board of directors. Then with the Santa List in hand, members of both organizations hold a family night, where they go shopping to buy all the fixings for a Christmas dinner and presents for the families Autumn House indicated needed help with Christmas. “We had one year where we helped a family that had 13 members,” Gairns said. “In the past, we’ve even had to buy families the pots and pans so they could cook their Christmas dinner because they didn’t have anything.” “The moms usually don’t ask for anything for themselves, but we try to get them something, as well.” This year clothes, diapers, stuffed animals and toys were acquired to go along with the traditional Christmas dinner fixings. They were turned over to Dynes on Dec. 20, 2019, and she delivered them to the families in time for Christmas. Gairns said, “It’s nice to be able to help bring Christmas to a family that would not have one otherwise.” He issued a challenge. “I’d like to see other departments with the town join us and also make the effort to help Santa provide a Christmas for a family in need. If they need help getting organized, just get in touch with me.”