The presents have been opened, the turkey has been eaten and our Christmas elves are still sorting and counting pennies.
One other Christmas tradition has also been concluded: our annual draw (but more on that in a bit).
The Winnipeg Free Press's 18th annual Pennies from Heaven campaign is literally rolling to a conclusion faster than you can say Kris Kringle. Our bins at local Walmart stores, RBC branches, the second floor of Portage Place and the News Café will be disappearing for another year after this weekend.
Just as Pennies founder Mike Ward and past head angels Gordon Sinclair Jr. and Lindor Reynolds did before me, I donned the angel wings -- along with my daughters, Sarah and Mary -- and encouraged you, our readers, to support the fundraising cause that supports both the Christmas Cheer Board and Winnipeg Harvest.
Two weeks ago we put out the plea that the Cheer Board volunteers were worried that our donations were down dramatically. You responded, both to our draw and by filling our coin bins, but it will be some time until we know our final totals.
Whatever the tally, be assured your assistance has helped many people in Winnipeg who might not otherwise have been able to celebrate the holidays with food and presents if not for the Christmas Cheer Board.
And after Christmas -- because hunger doesn't take a holiday -- Winnipeg Harvest helps thousands of people every month with their food needs.
While it wasn't mandatory to send a donation, our little draw did raise more than $5,200. We thank the people who contributed to the cause.
Cheryl Martens of Winnipeg was thrilled to win the white gold and Canadian ice diamond pendant courtesy of Ben Moss Jewellers.
"This can't be -- I never win anything," an excited Martens told me.
Larry McCrady of Morris was pleased to win a day with either RBC Olympian Jared Funk or Jill Officer. I've left a message for the other winner.
And Evelyn Cyr couldn't believe her good luck at knowing for the next few months she is going to be an avid concertgoer after winning the package that includes tickets to Sarah Brightman, Blue Rodeo, Randy Bachman, the Tragically Hip, Jeremy Hotz, Great Big Sea, Charley Pride and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Thanks to everyone who sent in their ballots!
Big thanks also to everyone who dons the angel wings in their own way, including the Free Press's Christa Richard, Kelvin Henderson and Linda Huff and our advertising department, which held a successful fundraising initiative; the Cheer Board's Kai Madsen and all his angels who collect the coins throughout the campaign; and Winnipeg Harvest's David Northcott.
Big thanks also to Walmart, RBC and Portage Place and their wonderful employees who kindly allow us the space to set up our bins.
We're not sure yet if next year's campaign will have the same name since the federal government is going to start melting down pennies on Feb. 4, but unfortunately a fundraising campaign for the hungry will still be needed, so we will be there for them.
And there will be one more fundraising effort in the next few weeks connected to the dying penny -- but more on that later.
For now, thanks once again.
We couldn't do it without all of you
A flap of the angel wings for these generous donors:
In memory of Bill Bouttell
John and Lillian Kinczylo
Reid and Bette Birss
Charles and Hilda Curtis
In memory of Ann
Nick and Agnes Baraniuk
Morley and Brenda Plummer
Share Our Strength Canada
In memory of Lynne
Heather and Terence Anderson
In memory of Jennie and Bob Comstock
Deborah Le Bane
In memory of Grandma
In memory of Jamie Gerry Karr
Joyce and Raymond Cumming
Claudia and William Senkiw
In memory of Don McNeil
Dave and Barb Gemmell
In memory of Alfons Hart
In memory of Samuel Edward Ermet
In memory of Todd Edward Ermet
Louise and Frank Gogal
In memory of Eva Dean
Jerry and Anne Collard
In memory of Peter Komarnicki
In memory of Rudy Comeault
In memory of Raymond Ritchie
In memory of John H. Peters
In memory of Frieda Hastman
Manitoba Hydro Credit & Recovery Services Department
Manitoba Legislature Building staff and politicians
École Lorette Immersion
Evelyn and Brent Cyr
Brock Corydon School
In memory of Alan Melnic
In memory of Gordon Brennan
In memory of Elsie Kohut
Lindenwood Manor residents
Winnipeg Hydro Reunion fundraiser
Joseph and Heather Corbett
Ruddick and Jacqueline Renaud
Robert and Gail Derby
In memory of Edith Rose
In memory of Ted and Lisa Lamontagne
Joyce and Knut Lindstein
P and P Cloutier
Derrelyn and Adolf Reinfort
Ian and Rhonda Willows
In memory of Dick McCullough
William and Bareth Sutherland
Shirley Gaudry and family
Carl and Linden Albertson
Calvin and Carole Rowley
On behalf of Brin Ledger in lieu of Christmas gifts