Makayla Barrette with her grandmother, Shirley Bolton, at a past Christmas celebration

Students at South Branch Elementary School in Kemptville come together this holiday season to create handmade Christmas cards for all the residents of Bayfield Manor.

The initiative was spearheaded by Makayla Barrette, one of the early childhood educators (ECE) at the school, whose grandmother lives at Bayfield. One of her favourite holiday traditions in past years has been visiting her grandmother with her family for a potluck, and Christmas carols in their dining room. “Singing with my grandma and all the residents at Bayfield brought everyone so much joy,” she remembers. “Looking around the room, you couldn’t miss all the love and happiness.”

South Branch kindergarten students making cards for Bayfield residents

Makayla is devastated that this tradition can’t happen this year due to COVID-19, not only for her own family, but for all the residents who look forward to it. Knowing she couldn’t let the year pass by without doing something special for the seniors at Bayfield, she thought it would be a nice gesture to have each of them receive a handmade Christmas card. After getting in touch with Bayfield’s Director of Care, Jane Johnston, she was able to get first names for all the residents. With the help of her colleagues at South Branch, she divided up the 113 names between the kindergarten, grade one, and grade two classes at the school. They recycled old Christmas cards to make new ones, and Makayla says that adding the resident’s names on the cards created a meaningful connection for their students. They also talked about how lucky they were to be with their families this Christmas, and how there will be many residents at Bayfield who may not have the same opportunity. “Our students loved this activity,” Makayla says, adding that one of her kindergarten students said: “It made me feel good, because I like making things for people.”

Makayla will be getting a COVID-19 test so that she can visit her grandmother before Christmas and hand deliver the cards to the Bayfield residents. “It is always a pleasure for our residents to receive Christmas wishes, especially from children,” says Bayfield’s Executive Director, Gerry Miller. “This year, these gifts are treasured all the more, given the COVID restrictions. Our heartfelt thanks to all the South Branch schoolkids and their teacher.”



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