It was an initiative that started off with a modest goal, but thanks to the efforts of the community – and particularly Aurora’s Dianne Harrison – more than 8,000 Christmas and Holiday cards are making the final leg of their journeys to Canadian servicepersons stationed at home and abroad.
In total, Ms. Harrison and her husband Brian, collected a whopping 8,147 cards, each bearing a heartfelt message to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“We would have been thrilled if we got 4,500! A lot of York Region schools stepped up to the plate,” says Ms. Harrison. “Diane Buchanan of the Optimist Club of Aurora got us 3,500 and that certainly got the ball rolling!”
More than 300 hand-crafted cards were collected from artsy students participating in programs at the Aurora Public Library, and cards even came in from as far afield as Kitchener and Ingersoll.
“People just stepped up to the plate and it is overwhelming,” says Ms. Harrison.
Many of the messages included to serving members were inspired by the difficulties we are all facing due to COVID-19. Some referenced members of the military who have been helping in long-term care setting or to weather events, some kept it simple by sending kind words to persons who will not be able to spend the holidays with their families while stationed abroad or far from home.
“I think because COVID has been around for two years and people realize the military is under more stress and not getting support from the government that they should be, they’re thinking of them and the families of these soldiers,” says Ms. Harrison. “What is happening to their wives and their children? We’re really concerned about their families. I find there is a lot more compassion. People are caring and I think that is the uncertainty, too, for a lot of the community wanting to know how the soldiers are doing and what they are enduring over there. We have no idea what they are going through over there. Are they going to get back safely? Are they going to get COVID? The thing I have heard in the past is for so many soldiers who received our messages, this is maybe the only card that they may have got.
“Next year, I want people who write cards to put their email addresses in – for themselves, their schools, their businesses – because a lot of times soldiers can get back to them faster over email.”
Another wish is for card donations. If you have any leftover cards from this holiday season, the Harrisons will gladly accept your donations and make sure they are part of the mix that will be distributed to the community for collection in the lead up to next Christmas.
For further information on how to donate, or participate, email email@example.com.
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran