Parksville’s Christiana Conway, left, husband Chris Conway, right, and friend Elizabeth Doell write letters designed to bring Christmas cheer to senior residents at area care homes. (Submitted photo)

Parksville’s Christiana Conway, left, husband Chris Conway, right, and friend Elizabeth Doell write letters designed to bring Christmas cheer to senior residents at area care homes. (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island woman helps create special messages of Christmas cheer for seniors

Hand-written letters designed to help lonely residents during holiday season

Christiana Conway moved to B.C. from Ireland late last year and still can’t help but feel a little melancholy and homesick.

“I know what it is to celebrate Christmas away from my parents and my siblings,” said Conway, who quickly realized others here are in a similar situation.

The 25-year-old has made a new home in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. She said that when she thought about the many seniors in the area living in care homes, she imagined what they go through every Christmas.

She wanted to do something.

RELATED: B.C. seniors worry more about death from loneliness than COVID-19

RELATED: Connect with your elderly neighbours during COVID-19 crisis

“My heart really went out to them. I guess it’s a lonely season for the elderly every year and this year even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Conway. “So I was thinking of a way that we could encourage them and I came up with this idea of writing letters.”

Conway, with the help of her husband Chris Conway and friend Elizabeth Doell, began writing letters by hand in October. It took them nearly three months to write 330 letters, which have now been distributed to senior residents at Stanford Village, Arrowsmith Lodge, Cokely Manor and Little Mountain Manor.

“They’re little Christmas cards and they have a little Christmas message and encouragement including well wishes for the coming year,” said Conway. “We want them to know that they’re loved and remembered this Christmas.”

Conway said they purchased the Christmas cards themselves but would have created them if more people were involved. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they weren’t able to get more friends to come out and join them.

“It took too much time writing them that we just didn’t have enough time to make the Christmas cards,” said Conway. “We’ve written quite a lot. We didn’t use a computer. We wanted them all hand-written because we wanted to have a personal touch. We’ve got a list of names and they’re personally addressed.”

Conway hopes to do it again next year and would like to personally hand them out to recipients.

“It has been a lot of fun and we’ve had a lot of support even before we began handing them out,” said Conway. “We definitely want to do this again and involve more people. I would like this to become a family tradition. It has been a great experience.”

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Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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