The kind­ness of strangers

Outpouring of sup­port changes lives for two lonely se­niors


Two lonely Cape Bre­ton se­niors aren’t feel­ing so alone any­more.

Fol­low­ing a re­cent story in the Cape Bre­ton Post where both Clyde Har­vey of North Syd­ney and Judy James of Syd­ney de­scribed how they spend Christ­mas Day alone, the love poured in.

Har­vey, 66, who is orig­i­nally from In­go­nish and is bat­tling lung cancer, said he has spent Christ­mas Day by him­self for at least the last 16 years, lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio and look­ing out the win­dow. That all changed this year.

“I had dif­fer­ent peo­ple drop­ping in Christ­mas Day,” he said.

Har­vey re­ceived more than 60 Christ­mas cards from across Cape Bre­ton and as far away as Al­berta.

“I even got one from Texas.” Har­vey said he told his story in hopes of help­ing other lonely se­niors.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing any­thing, I wanted to help other peo­ple,” he said.

“It has made me feel real good and I hope it helped other peo­ple too.”

Har­vey said so many peo­ple were good to him, in­clud­ing Alaina Mackenzie of the North Syd­ney Sal­va­tion Army and a woman named Rose Jes­some.

He said Madi­son’s An­gels founder Re­nee Smith was “amaz­ing.”

When Smith heard about Har­vey from the story in the Post, she wasted no time in not only or­ga­niz­ing a huge pub­lic Christ­mas Eve party for him, but she col­lected do­na­tions and got him a tele­vi­sion, VCR, and tele­phone — none of which he had be­fore this — and paid for ca­ble and his phone for a year.

“Some­one else paid for my phone and ca­ble for an­other year so I have both for two years,” he said. “If some­thing hap­pens now I don’t have to wait for some­one to find me, I can call 911.”

Other Christ­mas gifts in­cluded ev­ery­thing from clothes to gift cards and food items.

Har­vey said there have been too many amaz­ing mo­ments to share, in­clud­ing hav­ing the Me­mo­rial High School bas­ket­ball team and coaches raise funds and not only treat him to a gro­cery shop­ping ex­pe­di­tion but present him with a jersey that is now proudly dis­played in his apart­ment.

“When they have a game, they are go­ing to call me and if I’m not too tired they are go­ing to pick me up and take me to the game and then drive me home.”

As well, Har­vey, who men­tioned how much he loves the late John Al­lan Cameron’s mu­sic, touched the heart of Cameron’s wife Lala, liv­ing in On­tario, who sent him CDS, DVDS and au­to­graphed pho­tos. A group from the Grace Fel­low­ship Church in Syd­ney Mines brought him over for en­ter­tain­ment, so­cial­iz­ing and even gave him a bag of gifts.

As well, Har­vey said, he was ex­tremely touched by the doc­tors and nurses at the Cape Bre­ton Cancer Cen­tre who also sent him a bag of gifts.

“I can’t thank peo­ple enough,” said Har­vey. “I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what ev­ery­one did for me.”

Judy James, 72, whose usual com­pany in­cludes home care and Vic­to­rian Or­der of Nurses work­ers, said she has two daugh­ters on the main­land who are good to her but they work and rarely get to Cape Bre­ton.

In an ear­lier Post story, James had said her high­light on Christ­mas Day nor­mally would have been open­ing the stock­ing hung in her liv­ing room for her beloved cat, Jenny.

James said fol­low­ing the story she was sur­prised to re­ceive sev­eral bags of gifts in­clud­ing gift cards, a sweater, sham­poo and body wash, neck­lace sets, candy, and more.

She was shocked to­tal strangers thought of her and sent gifts.

“Some­one sent me a watch,” she said. “It’s like a piece of gold to me. I’ve never got­ten any­thing like this be­fore.”

As well, she opened up a brand­new win­ter coat.

James said she loves it.

“I looked at it and said, “I can’t be­lieve it’s mine.”

The Post could not give out the ad­dress for James, who lives alone, but af­ter re­ceiv­ing many calls from peo­ple want­ing to reach out to her, Ma­jor Corey Vin­cent of the Syd­ney Sal­va­tion Army came on­board to co-or­di­nate a place to re­ceive any gifts or cards for her.

Jenny the cat wasn’t for­got­ten ei­ther. James said peo­ple sent ev­ery­thing from a cat house/play area to a cat mat, food and toys.

She said home­care work­ers dropped in on Christ­mas Day with a beau­ti­ful dish shaped like a fish for her cat be­fore pre­par­ing a nice sup­per for James.

Al­though she was oth­er­wise alone Christ­mas Day, James said she didn’t feel alone, as the love shown up­lifted her spir­its.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate it all very much,” she said.

“All this made me re­al­ize there are peo­ple who care about the se­niors out there.”


Judy James of Syd­ney shows some of the many Christ­mas gifts she re­ceived from strangers. James said the kind­ness of oth­ers changed Christ­mas for her.


Clyde Har­vey, 66, of North Syd­ney, sits by the tele­vi­sion, VCR and phone he re­ceived for Christ­mas from strangers — items which he never owned prior to the hol­i­day sea­son — while proudly wear­ing a jersey given to him by the Me­mo­rial High School boys var­sity bas­ket­ball team. Har­vey, orig­i­nally of In­go­nish, had spent Christ­mas Day alone for the pre­vi­ous 16 years.

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