For the sixth consecutive year, our hearts were warmed by the staff and students of Willingdon School in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, who collected warm socks and also handcrafted hundreds of Christmas cards to give to the homeless men and women we serve during the winter holiday season.
The card-making project was initiated by Monique Dykstra, proud parent of two former Willingdon students, volunteer and regular photographer for the Mission, who wanted to share kindness and compassion during what can be a lonely time for many. “I’ve seen first-hand how the students’ thoughtful cards are so very appreciated by those who receive them,” explained Monique. “For most, it might be the only gift they will receive this year.”
Melissa Bellerose, Mission Director of Communications and Public Affairs, accompanied by Monique, visited the school December 18 to hand a certificate of appreciation to the staff, students and parents. “They dedicate time and effort to collecting socks and crafting cards year after year, but much more than that, they’re helping to break isolation among homeless men and women. That’s what the spirit of giving is all about,” said Melissa.
Maya Doughan, Vice Principal at Willingdon School, was happy to accept the certificate along with a number of students. “It is with a heart filled with love and joy that we accept your certificate of appreciation,” she said.
The Mission extends a special thank you to Monique for initiating this uplifting project and for capturing it on camera. All photos are taken by her and are of real Willingdon students and Mission residents.
Monique Dykstra is a professional photographer at Studio Iris Photography and based in Montreal. Her work has been called “stunning,” (Globe and Mail), “breathtaking,” (Ottawa Citizen), “lustrous,” (Canadian Geographic) and “superb” (MRB). Monique has published two books of photography and worked for the Montreal Gazette as a photographer and columnist. She also taught Commercial Photography at Dawson College.
We also wish to thank producer Jake Kent and his talented team, Director of Photography Édith Labbé, and Sound Recordist Cleo Dafonseca, for capturing this touching moment on video.
Every winter, generous Montrealers come through to share holiday spirit with vulnerable men and women. Take a look at some more initiatives that warmed our hearts this year.