The COVID-19 pandemic means many people are facing the holidays without their extended families, and won’t be able to see their friends, either. It’s going to be a lonely and a difficult time for many, many people.
But there are small things you can do to make someone’s life a little bit better. If you’re sending out Christmas cards this year, considering adding one or two to people who could really use the encouragement, like health-care workers or seniors.
Here are some of the ways you can get letters or Christmas cards to Canadians who might really need them this year. (This list is far from exhaustive, and we’ll be adding more initiatives to the list.)
Mark It Proud is a Toronto company that makes LGBTQ+-inclusive greeting cards. This page on their website will show you how to pick out one of their cards and write a thank-you message, which they’ll then send out either to a specific front-line worker of your choice, or to a nurses’ station, doctor’s office or grocery store that they pick. The service is totally free.
The Windsor, Ont.-based Stay Gold Society, which aims to bring joy to the elderly, has a holiday program distributing Christmas cards to seniors living in long-term care. Find the mailing address and more information here.
Letters Against Isolation is an initiative started by two American sisters at the onset of the pandemic. Every two weeks, volunteers are invited to sign up to send cards or letters to seniors living in long-term care homes in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia or Israel. There are currently 10 Canadian care homes they work with, and volunteers also have the option to add new care homes to their list of partners.
If you’re interested in buying a gift for seniors, check out Lethbridge’s Christmas to Remember campaign.
You can also do what Sudbury, Ont. resident Krysten Patrick did a few years ago, and look up a nursing home in your area and address cards there. Patrick told CBC News that the most efficient way to do it is to put all of the cards in one big envelope and send it to a nursing home’s activities director, with instructions to hand the cards out to the people who need them most.
It’s best to send these out as soon as you can: Canada Post says mailing delays are likely given the high volume of mail this month.
Many members of the Canadian Forces aren’t able to spend the holidays with their families, even in non-pandemic years. The popular “Canadian Forces in the U.S.” Twitter account recently posted an address that will accept and distribute mail sent to any member of the armed forces.
You can also find addresses for specific overseas operations on the government’s website.
Send a Smile 4 Kids sends cards to children who are patients at several children’s hospitals on the west coast. Their Facebook page is frequently updated with the specific kind of mail they’re looking for at a particular time.
Human rights activists
Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights program sends letters and card to people who have been imprisoned while fighting for justice. Their website is full of testimony from people who have since been freed, who say getting correspondence while in jail provided much-needed hope.