The home of Jean and Rollie Lecompte looks like Santa’s workshop on Christmas Eve.
It’s wall-to-wall colourful toys and gift bags on every surface.
There are gifts for neighbours. Gifts for people in need. And most importantly there are gifts, as there are every year, for dozens of kids at Central elementary.
They don’t put any Christmas decorations up around the condo and they don’t have a tree. But the brand-new bikes and games and sweet holiday treats make the atmosphere festive.
Jean and Rollie decided years ago to stop buying presents for one another. Instead they scrimp and save their pennies all year long. Somehow on pensioners’ fixed income, they manage to squirrel some of it away, putting the money into a special account for their annual gift-giving extravaganza in Chilliwack.
“They’ve been doing it for years,” marvels Fred Buburuz, their neighbour who lives in the same condo complex as the Lecomptes. “This couple is so giving.”
Asked why they do it, Jean will tell you it’s in loving memory their late daughter, Suzanne, who was tragically killed 20 years ago as a result of a car crash.
She actually survived the terrible accident with a truck, but succumbed to her injuries later in hospital.
“That kind of chokes me up,” the neighbour Buburuz said.
So the lavish Christmas giveaways every year are the couple’s way of keeping their beloved daughter’s memory alive with fierce kindness and generosity, but they also do it because they know many parents can’t afford presents for their kids.
Jean says this may be her “last hurrah” with the major gift-giving effort, since her health won’t allow her physically to stand, and prepare the gifts like she used to.
“I figured I better go out with a bang,” Jean jokes. “I will continue helping out the kids, though.”
They managed put aside an impressive $700 this year to spend at Christmas on everyone else but themselves.
They purchased popular toys and gifts on special in the months leading up to Christmas.
What they don’t spend in a month, they’ll put aside for their holiday giving.
“When we do something we really go for it,” Rollie said.
All of the kids who will be recipients of their gifts, are in Kindergarten at Central. They were treated to gift bags containing a toy, treats and a small bag of mini-marshmallows cunningly labelled “snowman poop.”
Jean clearly has a sense of humour that she can’t resist sneaking into the Christmas presents for the kids and adults alike.
“You want people to have a laugh,” Jean says. “It’s not all about the smiles and thank yous we get.”
Some of the gift bags for neighbours contain half a roll of toilet paper. They literally saw the rolls in half.
“Well we are sharing everything we have – even the toilet paper,” Jean deadpans. “So they get half a roll.”
But jokes aside, why do the Lecomptes make such a big effort?
“I guess it’s just the way our mother raised us,” Jean says, about her own personal ethics that make sharing de rigueur.
They do it because it feels so good to see the little faces light up.
“It gives you such a warm feeling when you see the happy expression on people’s faces,” Jean said.
“That’s when we know we’ve done well. They don’t have to say anything. They don’t have to say thank you.
“It’s the pure expression of joy on their faces that makes you feel so good.”
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