The spirit of Christmas means different things to many people: a special ornament, time spent with family and friends, a festive meal…
For Nicole LeBlanc of Trenton, it’s all of the above and then some. But nothing is more important to LeBlanc at the holidays than being able to share a smile and a heartfelt greeting with others. And that’s what she is doing for the third year in a row with her SpreadingChristmas Cheer in Pictou County Christmas cards project.
LeBlanc is transforming ordinary Christmas cards into an extraordinary movement of hope and peace and goodwill during the holidays.
She explains, “I started this three years ago in honour of my grandmother, Evelyn Gorham (who passed away in 2014) and now my grandfather Bert (who passed away this summer). While in the hospital, my grandmother had a bulletin board near her bed where she would pin cards she received. She looked at them all day and I saw how much a simple greeting card could brighten her spirits, so I wanted to organize efforts to help brighten others’ spirits. We all have someone in our lives who we would love to honour in a special way, and this is a meaningful and simple way to do that.!”
The concept is simple: Simply donate blank or filled out Christmas cards. “Left-over cards from 2015, handmade cards, drawings, small crafts or ornaments, new packages – whatever you are willing and able to give.”
Blank greeting cards will be filled out by a team of elves, but cards filled out with meaningful, generic messages are also appreciated. “For example, ‘Someone is thinking of you this holiday season’ and ‘Love the NAME family,’” says LeBlanc.
The cards will be sent to local nursing homes, the hospital, Roots for Youth house, Riverview Home and other facilities. “I’m always open to new ideas.”
LeBlanc says, “Deliveries are pre-arranged with organizations so that the delivery is welcomed, and not a burden to staff. As well, numbers are collected from each organization to ensure that all patients, clients and residents receive at least one card.”
The project has gained momentum since LeBlanc first introduced it. “In the first year I received 400 cards, last year I received 4,000 cards, so I guess I’m on track for 40,000 this year,” she smiles.
Schools are getting involved in the project which really puts a smile on LeBlanc’s face. “I love it when the young people get involved with their handmade cards. Kids really get it – that there are some people who are along during the holidays and a Christmas card can really brighten their spirits,” LeBlanc says.
This year, Blair MacDonald, manager at Giant Tiger in New Glasgow, has donated children’s colouring books and crayons to keep little ones busy while visiting loved ones in the hospital during the holidays. Also new this year, LeBlanc is hoping to get donations of unused stamps that can be used, for example, by seniors home residents who want to send out a greeting to a friend or family member. “Someone dropped off a book of stamps to me last year and I thought it was a great idea.”
To get the project started, a card making workshop will be held Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Trenton Rink. “Janice Hatt organized a painting night and all of the funds raised went to buy supplies for this event,” LeBlanc credits. “So come on out to the Trenton Rink and enjoy some hot chocolate and Christmas music and get your craft on!”
Cards can be dropped off to The Advocate office on George Street in Pictou, to any Scotiabank, the United Way, Plush Esthetics, or sent to LeBlanc at PO Box 256 Trenton, B0K 1H0. She can also be contacted by email at email@example.com or through Facebook at Spreading Christmas Cheer in Pictou County!