**Editor’s note: As of Monday, Feb. 8, we were informed Hawkins had received 6,400 birthday cards.
Beaver Harbour – When Arnold Hawkins’ family put out a Facebook request in the hopes of receiving 110 cards for his 110th birthday, no one expected to be flooded with cards from around the world. But, that’s exactly what happened. Hawkins, who lives in Beaver Harbour, turned 110 on January 30, and as he was unable to have a party due to COVID-19, his family decided to see if they could get people to send him birthday cards, with the ultimate goal to make 110. The results floored everyone, and a week after his birthday, they are still counting birthday cards.
“We’re over 5,300, and we haven’t counted at least 30 to 40 packages from schools, I think maybe more than that,” said Hawkins’ granddaughter, Cheryl McKinley.
McKinley said they expected to get a few hundred cards, but everyone is overwhelmed at the amount that began pouring in over the last couple of weeks. And, they are still coming. Hawkins has received cards from as far away as Germany, the U.K., and Australia. On Monday, they began receiving cards from various parts of the U.S., including Florida, Texas, and West Virginia.
“We didn’t have any mail yesterday because I have a long driveway and it wasn’t plowed, but a great big huge bag came today,” said McKinley, who has pretty much made sorting and counting birthday cards a full-time job in recent days. “We’re just going through some of the cards and stuff here. Somebody made a collage of pictures that they found on his site. It’s actually pretty cool. There’s a really cool drawing that somebody made. It had a wheel, and then they drew a lobster over top of it, which was pretty cool.”
A good portion of the cards are at Hawkins’ home, while the rest are still at McKinley’s, waiting to be counted. McKinley said the family are in the process of counting the cards that came in the packages from various schools while she was at her grandfather’s home, and then she would count the rest over the following few days.
“I figured what I would do, because I know a lot of people are waiting, we’re just going through the school packets that are here. Over the next few days I’ll be able to go through all of the packages that I have at home. That way, I’ll at least have them ready to read off to him.”
McKinley said post office staff are getting a huge kick out of seeing all of this mail coming in, and everyone particularly loves the cards that have been sent by children. McKinley called those cards, “adorable”, adding they are the “best ones”. There are more cards on the way, including a batch from schools in Newfoundland. Hawkins has a relative who teaches at a school there, and had students at his school send birthday greetings.
“There are a bunch of schools from Newfoundland, PEI, and Nova Scotia that are sending,” said McKinley. “There is a school that I do know from Texas that are doing cards up. I believe the girl, maybe a teacher, is originally from here. She’s getting a class from Texas to do some that they’re going to send up.”
McKinley said her grandfather was thrilled to receive so many cards, and has been enjoying having the messages from around the world read to him. Family members began reading cards to him last week, but this is not something they are going to be able to do in a couple of days, as there are thousands of cards to go through. They also had to miss a couple of days due to bad weather. So, they set aside a couple of hours each day to read some of the cards to Hawkins,
“We just figured this week we’d go through them and see if we can get them all rearranged to start going through them again the first of the week. It’s fun. I like it.”