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Santa stopping early in Valley to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society

MADAWASKA, Maine — Christmas will come early this year when Santa makes a pre-season stop in Madawaska on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Senior Center on Main Street, to take photos with those who make donations to the American Cancer Society program Relay for Life.

Relay for Life is the fundraising sector of the American Cancer Society, which works to find a cure for cancer by funding research.

As the second annual Christmas photo shoot approaches, Santa (also known as Andrew Nolan in The County) worked with the organizing team from Pictures of Hope led by co-captains Garry and Louise Bouchard as they also came up with a variety of Christmas themed activities for families to come out and enjoy beyond the photo shoot.

Between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Pictures of Hope will be accepting donations of $5 per family to enter into the Christmas activity workshop. Some of the Christmas themed activities include decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus, bowling penguins, and writing letters to Santa. Organizers are asking for a donation of $1 for each activity.

“The kids really like the activities,” said Garry Bouchard.

The main, but separate, event is the photo shoot with Santa. People who call ahead to schedule their time, can have a photo taken with the man himself for a donation of $40.

“After we take the photos, the families will get five cleaned-up, magic added, digital images on a flashdrive to print however they want,” said Bouchard.

The main reason they opted to have the Christmas photo shoot in October, according to Bouchard, is because Santa leaves the state at the beginning of November.

“We’re fortunate to have the services of a real Santa Claus,” Bouchard said referring to Santa Nolan. “They see him on the street and they say, ‘Hi santa.’ He has that aura.”

The professional Santa is donating his time to the cause this year. The monetary donations requested by Pictures of Hope for Relay for Life will go toward research.

“For me, it’s quite personal,” Bouchard said. “I had, over the years, a number of family members die from cancer and struggle with cancer.”

The goal of this Pictures of Hope fundraiser, according to Bouchard, is to raise funds for the American Cancer Society while spreading hope and “maybe a little magic.”

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