Campobello Island students filled shoeboxes with gifts for seniors over the holiday season

Submitted photo Students at Campobello Island Consolidated School packed 100 shoeboxes full of gift items, crafts, and gift cards, which were delivered to 100 senior citizens who live on the island and are feeling isolated due to COVID-19 restrictions. Principal Daphne Carten said the students loved putting the boxes together, and the seniors were all very appreciative of the unexpected gifts. Grade One class, from left to right: Jaelynn Newman, Faith Matthews, Micah Murray, Jace Lyons, Owen Smith, Emery Mitchell, Azalea Newman, and Sayler Corkum.

Campobello – Throughout 2020, residents across Canada have felt isolated due to lockdowns and other restrictions surrounding COVID-19. This is especially true of residents on Campobello Island, particularly senior citizens who are unable to visit with their loved ones. So, the students and staff at Campobello Island Consolidated School (CICS) came up with an idea to bring a little bit of cheer to 100 seniors who live on the island.

“Some of us were talking before Christmas, and everywhere has had a hard year,” said Daphne Carten, principal at CICS. “Campobello, everybody’s especially stressed and feeling down and isolated this year. There are many seniors that have family that live in the US, and they haven’t been able to see their families at all. At Christmas time, some of them were going to be having a very lonely Christmas. We were trying to think of a way that we could reach out to them and help them to feel connected and get the students to do it.”

Carten said they came up with the idea of putting shoeboxes together, with items donated from the community. They also did some fundraising, and received $1,000 from the Campobello Rec Council to purchase gift cards from the two island stores. They purchased some gift cards from Herring Cove Pharmacy, which also donated. Other items in the boxes included small things such as soaps, socks, hats, and mittens.

“We also wanted the students to put something in it, so each student made either a craft or wrote a letter or did something kind of personal to put in the shoeboxes. Some of the students did little watercolour Christmas cards and wrote a little note on the back. Some students wrote letters to the seniors, asking what their school life was like. Some of the younger students did little Christmas ornaments to put on their trees.”

Each of the boxes had notes or crafts from the students, along with the gift items. Carten said they had 10 classes each put together 10 boxes. The seniors seemed to be thrilled with their gifts, and one gentleman even took the time to write a letter to one of the students. Others called the school, and made Facebook posts about how excited they were to receive these shoeboxes filled with gifts during a time when they feel the most isolated from their loved ones.

“They were all very appreciative,” said Carten. “We even had one person, he had a letter from one of the students. So, he sat right down and wrote a letter right back to the student. It was a really nice letter, talking about how he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse and so it. It was really cool.”

This is a project that Carten hopes they can continue in the future. This year, teachers delivered the boxes instead of getting the students to do it, in order to adhere to all COVID-19 restrictions. Carten said the students made sure that each box had plenty of goodies inside, including the letters and crafts they created. The teachers delivered boxes to 100 seniors on the island who do not live in the Campobello Nursing Home.

“It would be really nice if the kids could do it another year,” said Carten. “We were just worried about COVID this year. We talked to the nursing home, and they said they already have a program in place like that, and not to worry about them. But, we did get the kids to make Christmas cards for the nursing home residents.”