Winnipeg college students unfold Christmas pleasure to care dwelling residents

After years of singing, dancing and spreading joy through the windows of a personal care home amid the pandemic, a group of Winnipeg students got to meet the residents face-to-face for the first time and wish them a Merry Christmas.

The sounds of carols and holiday cheer filled the lobby of the Convalescent Home of Winnipeg Tuesday as grade three students from Earl Grey School gave the home a boost of Christmas spirit.

Teacher Catherine Tattersall said her class started coming to the care home in the city’s Fort Rouge neighbourhood when the pandemic’s first lockdowns hit.

“At the start of the pandemic when we realized the residents were all cooped up in here, we started to walk and stand under the windows and waved. It just became a connection we have with them,” Tattersall said.

Even though pandemic restrictions barred the students from going inside, it didn’t stop them from sending some joy to the residents from the outside.

“They were great,” said Margaret Ward, a resident at the home. “We could watch them out the window. They would be out there dancing and singing and clowning around. It was nice, because kids are kids, it is always nice to see them.”

It was a moment of levity that came at a difficult time during the pandemic. Sherry Heppner, the development coordinator at the home, said the home was in total lockdown, with residents sequestered in their rooms and no visitors at all.

“For our residents, when they would be able to look out the windows and see the kids coming – it was just joy brought in then,” she said, adding it sparked a true connection between the residents and the students.

The connection has been growing ever since, and for the first time on Tuesday, the students got to go inside the home and bring some Christmas joy to the residents.

The students sang songs, wished the residents a merry Christmas, and give them some holiday drawings.

“It made us feel happy because we made the residents at the Convalescent Home happy,” said 8-year-old Hendrix, a student in grade three. “Our class has been coming here every day now… We’ve been at the door out there dancing to songs and singing and waving.”

Heppner said even though the gifts were small, they are precious to the residents.

“It means a heck of a lot more than just the material side – it is the love that behind it,” she said.

“The thing that’s amazing to me is that the students really know why they’re coming – is to bring joy to our residents here that can’t be with their families.”

Tattersall said this is a helpful lesson for her students too, who she said are learning firsthand that it is not just about receiving gifts at Christmas time.

“There’s a lot of love in the giving that they are doing.”

-with files from CTV’s Jill Macyshon 

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