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Hundreds of Valentine's Day cards delivered to Coquitlam seniors who weathered COVID-19

Connecting students with seniors who might be isolated due to COVID-19 is one of the aims of Real Acts of Caring Week, which was proclaimed in B.C. and School District 43 this week

Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam seniors are getting a much-needed break from COVID-19 cares this week thanks to the kindness of local students.

They’re sending Valentine’s Day cards and flowers to local senior care homes to mark the 15th Real Acts of Caring Week.

And judging by the smiles on seniors faces, the gesture is much appreciated.

The annual event got its start at Central school in Port Coquitlam, and now has grown to dozens of schools across B.C., thanks to the efforts of students and counsellor Harriette Chang, who now works at elementary schools in Coquitlam and Port Moody.

“This is something the kids get really excited about, they came up with the ideas for what they wanted to do and followed through on them,” said Chang.

The B.C. government, School District 43 board of education, and local councils have also got on board, declaring Feb. 14-20 Real Acts of Caring Week.

This year has proved to be especially challenging because students can’t visit seniors homes or hand out coffee or treats to people due to the coronavirus.

So they had to come up with different creative ideas that would be safe and also show kindness to people.

“It’s amazing what they’ve come up with,” Chang said.

Students at Mundy Road and Heritage Mountain made Valentine’s Day cards for the Hawthorne Care Centre in Port Coquitlam and Dufferin Care Centre in Port Coquitlam and Chang delivered carnations to seniors with money raised by students.

The cards and flowers drew smiles from the faces of everyone who was handed a Valentine’s Day treat by care home attendants.

Other local efforts include the hanging of a banner in Port Moody near Rocky Point Park, handing out candy grams with kind notes at Montgomery middle school, a fundraiser for Special Olympics at Dr. Charles Best, and RAC students from Gleneagle, Port Moody, Charles Best secondary schools and Eagle Mountain middle school have distributed posters offering to shovel snow for free, if the need should arise. 

Chang said RAC Week has also resulted in spin-off projects such as Intergenerational Integrities, a new program aiming to bridge the connection between youth and seniors.

Among the projects is an initiative to connect students with Korean War vets, said Chang, with online meetings where people can share stories.

“The idea is to bridge that gap and build that connection with the seniors and our youth,” said Chang, noting that this year’s Real Acts of Caring Week made a particular focus on seniors because of concerns about their isolation due to COViD-19.

Care homes across the Tri-Cities were particularly hard hit, with many going into lockdown because of COVID-19 outbreaks, including Hawthorne and Dufferin care centres.