School children prepared thousands of personalized cards for Langley seniors this holiday season. (Langley Volunteer Bureau/Special to Langley Advance Times)

School children prepared thousands of personalized cards for Langley seniors this holiday season. (Langley Volunteer Bureau/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Personalized cards carry special messages for Langley seniors this Christmas

Volunteer bureau and 30-plus schools customize 3,500 holiday greetings for those in local care homes

by Jim McGregor/Special to Langley Advance Times

This week, more than 3,500 Christmas cards will be delivered to seniors across Langley as a reminder that someone cares.

Langley Volunteer Bureau has partnered with the Langley School District and 30 Langley schools to make and deliver these special Christmas cards.

Karen Long of the Langley Volunteer Bureau is excited.

“We have picked up from 30 schools, Christmas cards we provided to Kindergarten through university students, and will be delivering to over 30 seniors’ residences, senior services such as Langley Meals on Wheels, Langley Seniors Resource Society, and the Aldergrove legion,” she explained.

“We will also be delivering these heartfelt cards to the Langley Hospice Society and the Langley Memorial Hospital.”

The idea came last year, when the volunteer bureau had some New Horizons grant money left over. They partnered with the Royal Canadian Legion and Jackman Manor, both in Aldergrove, to provide Christmas cards to Aldergrove seniors and then to veterans on Remembrance Day.

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The seven hundred cards were so well received they decided to expand the card deliveries to all of Langley, Long said.

With additional funds from the Township, plus sponsors like Langley Rotary and Bria Communities, they had the financial resources secured. Next was finding the hands they needed to help to make the project a reality.

“We put the word out and had over 35 schools tell us their students wanted to participate,” Long elaborated.

The bureau covered the cost of the school district printing the high quality cards, then had volunteers deliver the cards and decoration materials to the students – who not only personalized the cards provided, but also made additional ones of their own.

Judging by feedback from the schools, the kids were thrilled with the project, Long said.

A Grade 2 teacher shared: “I really want to thank you and all the other volunteers who helped bring this idea to light. Our Grade 2 team at R.C. Garnett Elementary has been writing Christmas cards to seniors for about four years now, as it has been a way for us to teach kindness and caring authentically. However, since we are just delivering to the care home down the street, the students have never had an actual name for the person they are writing to. Their letters have been addressed as, ‘Dear Resident.’ Having a name was extra special for them. They were excited to know who would be receiving their letter. We as teachers also appreciated having the cards and embellishments ready to go and prepped for us as this is something we would normally have done on our own. So, thank you very much for all your efforts. We truly hope that this is offered again next year as we would surely participate again!”

Another teacher added that, for many kids, this was their first introduction to ‘snail mail’ and they were excited to make connections with seniors in the community.

The next step was to deliver the cards and Long admitted that was a bit of a logistical nightmare.

City Councillors Rosemary Wallace and Rudy Storteboom are members of the volunteer bureau and part of the delivery team.

Wallace described it as rewarding: “I hand delivered cards to veterans on Remembrance Day and seeing the surprise and appreciation on their faces was wonderful. I dropped off Christmas cards to four places and the staff were very excited to receive them.”

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Storteboom acknowledged this project took a lot of coordination.

“The cards had to be bagged and delivered to the students, then picked up and sorted, and then delivered out to all the locations. But we get better every time we do this, and it is worth it to see the joy it brings,” he said.

Ruth Shankland, a resident of Sunridge Gardens, was a happy recipient.

“We were very surprised and grateful to receive these wonderful cards. So much work went into making them. And as a former teacher myself, I can appreciate the time that goes into a project like this.”

Another Sunridge resident, Serena McCullough agreed.

“Not many people in here have someone to send them greetings. This is a very nice gesture.”

Long said the team is now gearing up to send out Valentine’s and Easter cards as well.

“If you want to participate, sponsor or donate, check out our website, www.langleyvolunteers.ca, we’d love your help.”

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Ellen White, Ruth Shankland, and Serena McCullough were surprised and delighted to receive their personalized Christmas cards recently delivered to Sunridge Gardens. (Langley Volunteer Bureau/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Ellen White, Ruth Shankland, and Serena McCullough were surprised and delighted to receive their personalized Christmas cards recently delivered to Sunridge Gardens. (Langley Volunteer Bureau/Special to Langley Advance Times)