Sarah Kimberley, 10, with the gift bags she, her family, and others put together for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

Sarah Kimberley, 10, with the gift bags she, her family, and others put together for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

Chilliwack family brings handmade gift bags to 80 isolated seniors for Christmas

‘Maybe if they have a present that they can open, they can feel a bit of love,’ said 11-year-old kid

A little idea that grew into something bigger resulted in 80 seniors at a Chilliwack care home having something to open on Christmas day.

Mellissa Kimberley, along with her family, friends and a class from Mt. Slesse middle school, were all part of the holiday project where presents were delivered to every resident at Birchwood Retirement Residence as a way to bring some joy to their Christmas in isolation.

Kimberley was out shopping with her kids when they spotted some paint-your-own ornaments. They were going to buy 16 and paint them, but what would they do with 16 ornaments?

One of her children suggested they could give them away to seniors at the Birchwood where their grandmother, Linda Zillwood, lives. But there are far more than 16 resident at the care home.

“Why not for everyone?” Kimberley suggested.

More painting? The kids were stoked.

“My 11-year-old has such a tender heart. He really feels for them. He said ‘maybe if they have a present that they can open, they can feel a bit of love,’” Kimberley recalled.

Rick and Andrew Kimberley pack gift bags for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

Rick and Andrew Kimberley pack gift bags for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

And so it begun. Kimberley, her husband Rick, and three of their kids – Sarah (10), Andrew (11), and Cameron (15) – all got busy painting the Christmas decorations which were plastic sun catchers and wooden ornaments.

But they didn’t just give the residents hand-painted ornaments, they packed cellophane bags full of other goodies. Each senior also got a pair of warm socks, a little bottle of lotion, cookies and candy.

Kimberley’s friends in B.C. and Alberta pitched in by making donations, and a Grade 6 class at Mt. Slesse middle school made a bunch of Christmas cards.

They packaged them all up and delivered the gift bags on Dec. 20 to allow enough time for them to sit in quarantine before being delivered.

“It was a wonderful way to spend time together as a family, and the staff were blown away when we delivered the gifts,” she said. “It was like a scene out of Miracle on 34th Street where the bags of letters for Santa keep getting carried into the courtroom; they had to call all of the available staff over to accept the trays of gifts.”

Sarah Kimberley, 10, paints ornaments for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

Sarah Kimberley, 10, paints ornaments for the residents at Birchwood Retirement Residence. (Mellissa Kimberley)

Five days later, staff handed out the gifts on Christmas day to everyone.

Kimberley was quite proud of her children for all the thought and effort they put into the project.

“I’m so blown away by their generosity,” she said. “If I can facilitate that generosity, I feel like I’m doing my job as a parent… and setting them up to be kind and compassionate adults.”

But the kindness didn’t end there. The Birchwood was so impressed with the gesture, they gave the family a card and two guest meal vouchers for the dining area at the care home.

Now Sarah and Andrew will be able to enjoy a dinner with their grandma, just as soon as they’re allowed to, Kimberley said.

RELATED: Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack matched 550 isolated seniors with generous gift-giving participants

RELATED: Crystal Ridge care home manager grateful for London Drugs Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ChristmasCoronavirusHoliday givingSeniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Chilliwack driver’s vehicle was impounded for seven days after an excessive speeding violation. (RCMP photo)
RCMP catch Chilliwack driver doing 60 km/h over posted speed limit

The motorist was hit with a big ticket and a seven day vehicle impoundment

Glenwood Seniors Community is the second long term care home in Agassiz to have a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Glenwood Seniors Community in Agassiz

The long term care home is the second of Agassiz’s three facilities to have an outbreak

UFV assistant kinesiology professor Dr. Iris Lesser exercises along Chilliwack's Vedder Rotary Trail with her daughter Kaia. (UFV photo)
UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic

The study suggested women suffered more than men as gyms, parks and playgrounds shut down

The section of Princess Avenue from Young Road to Nowell Street, seen here on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, will be converted to one-way traffic to help increase parking in the area. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack council opts to convert downtown street to one-way traffic to create parking

Council voted to start with Princess Avenue, holding off on converting Victoria Avenue until later

Uber Eats has announced that it is now delivering food orders in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. (Submitted photo by Justin Walker)
Uber Eats announces expansion into Chilliwack

Food-delivery company is starting with 60 local restaurants

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read