AYLESFORD, N.S. - What started as a visit to a relative in a local nursing home has turned into a Valley-wide community project.
Amanda Cress of Aylesford set a lofty goal when she started the aptly named service project dubbed Spreading Holiday Joy to Seniors. She’s started a movement wherein community members are rallying together with the common objective of making enough Christmas cards to ensure that every nursing home resident in the Annapolis Valley will receive a handmade card.
Cress says she got the idea back in September when visiting her husband’s grandmother in a local facility.
“Every time we take our children in to visit, there are at least half a dozen residents sitting near the entry, waiting and watching for someone to come visit,” says Cress. “They love seeing the children and love having visitors all together.”
At the same time, Cress had been thinking about what community project she would do with her two daughters, ages 13 and six. Over the past six years, Cress and her daughter had done service projects on their own and through Girl Guides Canada, filled Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes and collected winter clothing and hygiene products for shelters.
Cress remembered that last Valentine’s Day, her Brownie group had made and delivered cards for seniors at a local facility. The residents loved them so much that she wondered why they couldn’t do that for Christmas. For some of these people it is the only gift that they may receive over the holidays, she thought.
From there, Cress researched every government facility from Windsor to Annapolis Royal and made a list of the number of beds in each. She came up with a total of 1,037.
“I naively thought that we could do it on our own,” admits Cress. “Soon, I realized that the number was about double of what I had initially expected, and so I created a Facebook page to start inviting friends and family to participate.”
The response, Cress says, has been overwhelming from the public, from families, youth groups, community organizations and teachers alike. To date, more than 860 cards have been collected.
Tracy Churchill, a facilitator with the Hants Learning Network Association in Windsor held a card-making session in one of her recent Saturday family literacy fun workshops. Kids worked together with their parents to create their cards.
“This project not only promotes literacy for families but helps to spread the holiday spirit to our whole community,” says Churchill. “We are always looking for activities that create a community space where learning is fun and engaging.”
How to help
Cress needs all card donations by Dec. 5, so they have a few days to sort through them all and package them up for their destinations. Card deliveries will start anytime after Dec. 10. Any families or groups interested in making cards or delivering some are asked to contact Amanda Cress at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project has been really cool, says Cress, because they are getting other people involved. People are sitting down with their children to make cards and they are explaining to the children where the cards are going. They are spreading compassion and awareness, she said.
“Every one of these people who have helped contribute should feel proud. Whether they have made one card or 10, it all comes together to make an amazing thing happen.”
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