A cardinal Christmas ornament is hanging in a window in a small town on Nova Scotia's south shore — a gift to a widower from two little boys who are on a mission to spread kindness.
The senior's home-care worker wrote to brothers Henry and Winston Astley and their mother, April Parker, nominating him to be part of their kindness campaign this month.
Henry, 7, and Winston, 5, learned the man had recently lost his wife, and that the couple had loved to go birdwatching together.
"The cardinal ornament that we delivered to his front door had such an impact on him that he hung it in the window, and when [the home-care worker] shows up for the past several days, he's been greeting her, telling her the story again and again, how someone has left this for him," said Parker.
"That really touched me and the boys. They said that it made their hearts feel bigger to know that we're bringing him joy really every day."
The brothers are delivering anonymous gifts to people's doorsteps as part of a larger family project to help others.
Every month, they choose to do something kind for someone else, whether that means buying pet food for the local animal shelter or delivering bags of necessities to a homeless shelter.
"I think that this year, more so than in years past, people are feeling really isolated," said Parker. "We want them to realize that they're important and that there are people that care for them."
Parker asked people on social media to nominate folks who might need a pick-me-up this month. So far, she's received 30 nominations and heard dozens of stories of people who are struggling this time of year.
The boys and their mom put together holiday bags with chocolates, a card, an ornament and a candy cane. Then they all jump in the car and head out on their delivery run in Lunenburg and neighbouring communities.
Henry and Winston said they wanted to help others who might be feeling down this time of year.
"Some people may be sad and they don't have any friends to play with," said Henry. "It brings a smile to their face."
'I cried tears of joy,' says recipient
Christine Hanhams, who lives a few doors down from the family in Lunenburg, said the gift from the boys made her day.
"My heart swelled when I looked out my window after hearing the knock and saw the ultimate joy in the boys' faces," she wrote in a Facebook message to CBC News.
"I cried tears of joy. I am so amazed at the kindness of strangers. I am honoured to be one of the recipients of their beautiful package."
The boys' family is originally from the U.S. and moved to Montreal about two years ago. They fell in love with Lunenburg during a summer vacation and decided to move to the seaside town earlier this year.
Parker said the family project helps them feel connected to their new home during a time when it's very easy to feel isolated and alone.
In each bag is a laminated card Parker hopes the recipients keep.
It reads: "During this holiday season, please remember you're important, you are loved, you matter to the world. Love, a friend."
MORE TOP STORIES