Many hands make light work

Spread­ing Hol­i­day Joy to Se­niors ser­vice project seek­ing card do­na­tions


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 [email protected]

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.”


Angela Cress, 13, and six-year-old Isabella Cress are help­ing to pro­duce more than 1,000 Christ­mas cards to de­liver to se­niors in ev­ery nurs­ing home from Wind­sor to An­napo­lis Royal this hol­i­day sea­son.

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