An Abbotsford family hopes to show a little love to seniors in care homes this Christmas with the help of more than 1,500 kids.
Last week, the Volcz family offered free “Christmas card kits” to any child who sent them an address through their Facebook page . In return, they planned to drop off about 300 kits, including a paper card kit and a stamped, addressed envelope to an Abbotsford care home, for kids to make and send a card to a senior over Christmas.
The response was beyond anything they’d imagined.
“We burned through the first 300 kits in under an hour,” said Ashleigh Volcz. “We kept the site open for as long as we felt comfortable, but we shut it down in under 24 hours.”
At that point, they’d committed to making and delivering 1,000 Christmas card kits to kids, plus another 650 cards to various community groups, teams and school classes.
For the next month, Volcz’s living room will be transformed into a card-making studio as she and husband Mark and her seven-year-old son Elias create three different card kits and then deliver them by the end of November.
Searching for a way to “give back” during the holidays, Volcz had the idea for card kits on what would have been her grandmother’s 100th birthday. A resident of a care home when she died at age 96, she really looked forward to visits from her family.
“I think the pandemic has really started to have emotional impacts on people in isolation,” said Volcz. “When we reached out to Abbotsford care homes to ask them about doing this, we had a great response.”
The care homes are planning to quarantine the cards for several days before delivering them to residents. The family also is looking for more homes to take cards.
Volcz applied for funds to complete the project through the Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants Fund and received financial assistance from the City of Abbotsford, Vancouver Foundation and Abbotsford Community Foundation. The fund encourages neighbourhoods to create positive social connection and build community strength.
They are still looking for a few more community partners to help with costs, such as mailing, through their Facebook page, Christmas Cheer for Abbotsford Seniors .
Last week, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie called on the government to relax restrictions on visits to care homes to allow more visitors, more often and to balance the risk of COVID-19 with the risk to a resident’s health from social isolation.
In a report called Staying Apart to Stay Safe , she said more than half of care home residents rely on relatives and visitors for many essential tasks such as grooming, assistance with eating and mobility.
Since visitation restrictions were eased in June after the initial wave of COVID-19 cases, the majority of residents are receiving visits once a week or less, and visits are often 30 minutes or less.
Many seniors are not as afraid of catching COVID as they are of dying while separated from family, according to the report.
— With Postmedia News files
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