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Stories, Songs and Santa Causes comes to New Westminster

North of 60 and Shining Time Station star Tom Jackson hopes to help others through performances

Tom Jackson with Queen Elizabeth II/@tomjacksononline on Instagram

It's really, really tough not to laugh around Tom Jackson.

Even getting him to state his name for the record elicits a laugh. His comedic timing is perfect.

"Jack Thompson!" he says jokingly. (Yes, my sides were very sore from all the laughter we shared throughout this interview.)

I grew up watching Jackson on a variety of shows, including Shining Time Station, in which he played Billy Twofeathers, an engineer who repaired pretty much anything the characters threw at him. Others might have seen him on North of 60 and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Even with that spate of experiences to his name, the actor and singer is incredibly warm, welcoming, and talented. And not only does he have a penchant for acting and singing, he's also committed to helping others. He was promoted from Officer to Companion of the Order of Canada, receiving the initial honour in 2000. The promotion came in 2020.

Now, much like Santa, the 74-year-old's kindness is coming to town: Stories, Songs and Santa Causes will include charitable donations to Don't Go Hungry in New Westminster and South Burnaby. The food hamper program serves more than 1,200 people every Saturday in four locations. Of those, about 400 are children.

Massey Theatre will be collecting donations for Don't Go Hungry right up to showtime. Here's what you can bring:

  • Personal care items. These includes toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, feminine hygiene products, shaving cream/razors, toilet paper, diapers (especially sizes 5 and 6), deodorant, and soap

  • Household cleaners. All-purpose cleaners, dish soap, and small boxes of laundry soap.

  • Canned proteins. Nut butters, canned meat (tuna, salmon), beans, and chili, to name a few

  • Children's snacks. Fruit Snacks, apple sauce, fruit cups, snack size crackers/cookies, and granola bars

"One of the things that we are adamant about is to try and make people healthy, make them happy," Jackson tells New West Anchor. "Given we're kind of coming up to the end of the second year of this COVID thing, and the weight—the sheer weight of that—is on our shoulders, and heavy in our hearts."

Jackson says part of the goal is to pull people out of that funk—and it does take a team to do that. He'll be joined by award-winning musicians and producers Tom McKillip and John MacArthur Ellis.

But there's another part to it: it's one thing to celebrate Christmas once a year, but it's another to be Christmas all year round; to celebrate and give to one another. It's why Don't Go Hungry was chosen as New West's Santa Cause.

"See, Christmas is a verb. It makes people do things: you think about it, you feel it," says Jackson, who likens it to having a social prescription; something you experience by being in the presence of others.

"I was in conversation with a First Nation girl, a jingle dancer. For those who don't know what that is, it's ... jingles on a dress. But I asked her why she dances, and she said, 'I dance until I sweat. Because... there's a toxic trickster that sits next to my heart, and when I sweat, that toxic trickster gets extricated," says Jackson, who adds that it's all about feeling good, then passing that good on to others.

"We want people to arm themselves, when they leave, with stories, songs, and Santa Causes," says Jackson. "Health is happy, and happy is healthy."

There's one more thing that Jackson takes pride in: his dad jokes.

"No, sorry," he said with a laugh. "They're all on the table at this point ... I prescribe to the bad jokes and the dad jokes."

Don't miss Jackson and his friends. They'll be performing on Friday, Nov. 25 at the Massey Theatre. The show begins at 7:30pm, and tickets start at $47.