For 19 years, Pommier Jewellers has made a Christmas angel ornament in support of the United Way. Each angel is unique, each angel is special, and each angel has a special meaning.
Two years ago, Tish Humphries, President and Founder of the Hub for Beyond 21 spoke at the United Way’s Fall Fundraiser kickoff breakfast. At that breakfast, she told the audience about her experience trying to find support for her daughter with special needs after she aged out of the school system at 21.
Humphries explained how she, and many other families in her position, we left with out resources for their children with special needs after they left school. She explained how these parents either had to leave their jobs, or in some cases take their children to work with them and that even then these children were still comparatively isolated and deprived of what they needed to grow. This is why Humphries started Beyond 21.
Andre Pommier was in that audience that day, as he often is at the United Way kickoff breakfasts and was moved by the story.
“I had already designed the angel for that year, but as soon as I got back to the office, I called our manufacturer and told them to scrap it,” he said.
Pommier explained how Humphries story inspired him to create a new angel for that year, 2018, one that shows a young child reaching up to an angel. That year’s edition of the Pommier Christmas Angel was inspired by Humphries’ daughter Emma.
In a similar way, the 2020 Christmas Angel was also inspired by a moment that happened at a United Way Kickoff Breakfast. This time, it was a year later, in 2019, and Pommier found himself next to Grand Chief Abram Benedict of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
Pommier remarked to Benedict that it would be nice to have Akwesasne added to the reverse side of the angel with Cornwall and SD&G. Benedict agreed.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region, connection and community became even more important.
The 2020 Pommier Christmas Angel represents connection not just between the communities of Cornwall, SD&G, and Akwesasne, but also of the people within those communities.
“This year represents the very difficult year we’ve had, but it shows our community coming together and I think that’s why it sold so well,” Pommier said.
This year’s angel depicts several angels holding hands representing the community’s frontline workers.
“That’s why everyone felt they were a part of the angel, whether they worked at Baxtrom’s, or at the hospital, or were teachers and so many others, who played a vital role in the community, they were all in it together,” said Pommier.
This year’s Christmas Angel did indeed sell very well. By November 28 they had sold out of the first 500, so they ordered 200 more and they sold out again in four days, so they ordered another three hundred.
“We are almost sold out, with a few left at the store, so if a you wish to reserve your angel please call and we can set one aside for you,” Pommier said “For the last 19 years we have always donated $5,000 to United Way. Because of the success of this year’s angel, we have already donated $7,500.”
Over the years, patrons have come in to Pommier Jewellers looking for previous editions of the angel to add to their collections, so Pommier keeps a stock of angels from previous years.
Next year will be the 20th edition of the Pommier Christmas Angel, and to mark the occasion, Andre and his team will be working to create a special box for all of the collected angels.
“People want that gift because it represents tradition,” Pommier said. “People realize it is a collection that can adorn their trees year after year.”