'To them it's everything': Smiling Seniors Project needs your help
LONDON, ONT. -- Special cards to make a senior smile are being delivered to long-term care homes across London through the Smiling Seniors Project, started by local mom Niki Hawel.
Hawel started the project back in March, when the province announced restrictions on long-term care facilities.
“I just thought I couldn’t imagine my grandma being in a home thinking she was alone…I thought I needed to do something to change that and this was the way to do it,” she says.
Hawel and her daughter Avery, who is nearly two years old, started finger painting cards for seniors across London. These cards are filled with messages of support, lovely drawings and even poems.
Hawel collects, creates and offers contactless delivery to more than 15 long-term care homes - around 300 cards a month are delivered.
“It seems simple to us, but to them it's everything. A few of the homes have reached out and said that it changes their day and puts a smile on their face,” Hawel says.
Even the neighbourhood kids started to get involved, like Avery’s two-year-old friend Maya who drew ‘a fat goldfish’ for a senior on Tuesday morning.
Hawel says she welcomes cards from anyone who has the time to create one, all you have to do is connect with her on The Smiling Seniors Facebook page.
There is also a virtual distribution system, where cards, after being scanned, are sent to long-term care homes weekly. The seniors can then stream the cards or print them off.
Hawel says that usually a bundle of cards is donated to her project every week or so, but she hopes that bundle will grow, so that every senior in London will feel special.
You do not have to know anyone in a long-term care home to create a card. All you need to do is send them a happy message or drawing, as seniors ‘love them just the same.’
“I can't thank the community enough, I really do think it’s made a change. It’s a hard time for them right now, and I think it's making them (seniors) feel a bit of comfort during this time,” says Hawel.
Hawel is asking the community to donate as many cards at they can ahead of the holidays, so that every senior will have something to open on Christmas morning.