Kingstonians bring Christmas cheer to local nursing home

Three women in Kingston decided to deliver Christmas gifts to all the residents at a local long-term care home, founding a new organization in the process.

Anna Stafford

Photo of 2 volunteers for Operation Kindness outside a local Canadian Tired
Kevin Fathers and Brenda Pool are volunteers for Operation Kindness. The new charity set up a drop off location at a local Canadian Tire store to collect gifts from volunteers for residents of a seniors home. Submitted by Operation Kindness

KINGSTON, Ont. — Back in October Sophie Boutet was starting to feel restless after months of working from home, so she decided she wanted to find a way to connect with her community.

“I was starting to feel a bit isolated, and Christmas is coming, and I thought, you know what, I don’t want to be home, bored, all of the fall. . .” Boutet said.

She remembered something she had heard on the radio a few years ago about a group of people from a small town in New York, who banded together to do good deeds for their community. She thought she could do something similar in Kingston.

Soon she decided she wanted to deliver Christmas gifts to people living in long-term care homes as her good deed.

To get started, she posted a Facebook notice looking for someone who worked in a nursing home. Renee MacDonald answered her call.

“My curiosity got the best of me, and I sent her a message,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald works at the Trillium Community Care Home, which has 170 residents. She loved Boutet’s idea, so she compiled a list of what each resident wanted for Christmas.

Deborah Bach also reached out to Boutet after seeing her posts on Facebook and offered to help coordinate the gift wrapping.

Together, Boutet, MacDonald and Bach called themselves Operation Kindness Kingston 2020.

Boutet says about 175 people from the community volunteered to help them after seeing their posts on social media. Some people bought gifts from the list and others helped wrap them.

After they received a gift, they brought it to Bach’s house to be wrapped. Boutet says that Bach’s living room has turned into a small gift factory.

Their effort has paid off. In fact, they have collected 170 gifts – one for each resident at the Trillium Care Community Home.

They will deliver the gifts to the nursing home on Christmas morning, and it’s going to be a surprise. None of the residents know that they will be coming.

It’s certainly a community-wide effort. Boutet says she even recruited a man from Service Experts who fixed her furnace a few days ago. After hearing about the project, he offered to bring one of the company’s trucks to help deliver the gifts.

Operation Kindness isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Boutet says she envisions herself handing out flowers downtown on Valentine’s Day. Macdonald says she would be happy to join her.

Macdonald says she can see them expanding to deliver gifts to other long-term care homes next year too.

Boutet, Macdonald and Bach have all formed friendships with each other as a result of their project. Boutet says she’s grateful for these new connections.

“I find this very fulfilling,” said Boutet. . . .”I feel busy and not so alone.”


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