Joan King couldn’t be more delighted with the generosity of Niagara-on-the-Lake and how well her annual stocking project came together.
“It was heart-warming, overwhelming, really. The support in this community is unbelievable,” said King.
Many hands helping out have brought joy to the residents at Pleasant Manor, Upper Canada Lodge, and Niagara Long Term Care, with each person receiving a stocking filled to the brim with all kinds of goodies.
More than 200 people were part of this initiative, some filling stockings, others contributing items to fill them with. Cards were created by Amika Verwegen’s young children, and special gift tags made by Sheri Ruby. Hand-knitted hearts were made by the ladies at Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care Service and included in cards designed by students, and printed by the town.
Staff at Heritage Place in Virgil were excited to see the stockings arrive Friday.
“Christmas is a busy and festive time at Heritage Place,” says program director Chelsea Bilton. “The week leading up to Christmas there is a virtual visit by Santa Claus, a Christmas banquet with a traditional Christmas meal, sing-alongs and more. The stockings that are donated will be handed out to all residents on Christmas morning. These stockings are very appreciated, and are sure to bring a smile to all the residents’ faces. It’s so special that every resident will get to open these stockings on Christmas Day,” she said, thanking King and all who contributed to the initiative.
King started her project last year, at the height of COVID, when there was no visiting in long-term care, and she thinks the desire to help residents is what has made people so generous. Some of those who contributed to her project have parents in a care home, and others have lost a parent during the last year.
“I think it means a lot to them to be able to help people here in NOTL living in homes,” King says.
And it means a lot to those in homes, says Cody Cowbrough, program manager at Niagara Long Term Care.
“Here at Niagara Long Term Care we are big on Christmas. We have been enjoying festivities throughout December, while continuing to follow all COVID-19 protocols to keep the residents safe. Residents have enjoyed tea parties with their families, Christmas entertainment, a Christmas Lights Tour, Christmas baking and many more activities. Christmas is a time of great joy for many of our residents, and brings back many memories for a majority of them,” says Cowbrough.
The stockings help bring a smile to residents’ faces when they get to open a present, he says. “These donations of wonderful gifts are so appreciated by all of our staff and family members. Thank you to the wonderful NOTL community for helping with this project.”
That includes Crossroads Kindergarten classes, where students have been learning about giving back to the community, and put together 54 stockings, says King, while the Niagara Lions Club, under the direction of Dorothy Soo Wiens put together 23 stockings.
The Wind group of restaurants had 40 to fill, and on Friday, just before the deliveries were to be made, Linda from St. Davids dropped off bags of large stuffed animals she had collected by ordering online and driving around to various stores. All bins were donated by Lauren Kruitbosch, a town employee.
With help from such a caring community supporting her initiative, King says, “it’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. This community certainly put a lot of love into this initiative.”