Seniors isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic had something to smile about over the holidays after receiving cheer packages from a Whonnock church.
Holy Spirit Anglican Church put together 110 packages after receiving a $25,000 grant from the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors program that provides funding for projects that make a difference in the lives of seniors.
Representatives from the program approached the church with the idea for the project, explained Jean Davidson with Holy Spirit Anglican Church. Holy Spirit had received a smaller grant from the program in the past to make life easier for seniors using their church building and their contact had been kept on file, she explained.
“They contacted us to see if we could facilitate any kind of project that would make life a little happier or less stressful for seniors who are isolated in the pandemic,” said Davidson.
“It was a pandemic specific initiative that they were undertaking.”
So, a committee of five people from the church – Deborah Sproule, Tom Kerr, Mary Blackstock, Mimi Hunfeld, and Rev. Miranda Sutherland – started reaching out to the parish, neighbouring churches and community associations in the area for names of seniors in need.
“There was no difficulty filling up the 100 slots,” noted Davidson.
Each care package contained a large tin of cookies and material directing individuals to various support services offered in Maple Ridge, including the Seniors Resource Directory. They also contained a $200 gift certificate for Save On Foods, that organizers said was “exceptionally generous” of the company, and a card from the church to encourage anyone in need to call if they needed help.
Sue’s Copy Place in Mission donated printing services for the cards and gift bags.
They were handed out to seniors in the Whonnock area and across Maple Ridge during the two weeks prior to Christmas.
The United Way also provided financial support for the project to purchase t-shirts that were worn by volunteers while handing out the packages to identify themselves as being with the church.
This was the first time Holy Spirit has taken on such a big undertaking.
“I think the church is looking for ways of reaching out to people and showing we care,” said Davidson.
“And this was not actively promoting the church in any way. Just, we’re here in the community, if we can support you get in touch,” she said.
Davidson was also told, by quite a few seniors on the receiving end, that the cookies were, “very, very good”.
“One fellow who lives alone who was going to have beef stew for his Christmas dinner said he was thrilled they were chocolate cookies,” noted Davidson.
“He ate a couple of cookies before his beef stew and a couple after his beef stew. So he really went to town for Christmas,” she said.
Davidson is currently coordinating the church’s centennial celebrations with events – hopefully – taking place over the spring and summer leading up to the November anniversary of the church building.
They are hoping to have a (photographic) display open to the public sometime during the summer.
“But that just depends on what Dr. Bonnie Henry says,” added Davidson.
For more about the upcoming centennial celebrations go to holyspiritanglican.ca.