• Burnaby Beacon
  • Posts
  • Burnaby seniors and RCMP receive an extra dose of holiday cheer

Burnaby seniors and RCMP receive an extra dose of holiday cheer

From handmade greeting cards to a donated tree, here are some good deeds from local residents this season

Burnaby seniors receive an extra dose of holiday cheer 

Over 2,000 Burnaby school children took part in Operation Elf this holiday season, a serious undertaking they did not take lightly. Organized by the International Acts of Kindness Foundation (IAK), Burnaby School District, and the city, Operation Elf mobilized students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to put their artistic talents to use by creating thousands of unique, hand-crafted holiday gifts for senior citizens. Citizen Support Services delivered the handmade greeting cards, drawings, poems, and bracelets. 

Handmade cards and bracelets by Burnaby students. Photo: City of Burnaby

“Burnaby is a city where we look out for each other and care for each other,” said Mayor Mike Hurley. “This project is a great example of how our residents step up to connect with and support their neighbours.”

IAK Foundation and its volunteers also delivered 2,500 hand-crafted greeting cards to care centres and food banks throughout Burnaby. 

“These uplifting holiday cards bring happiness to both the students who create them and the seniors who receive them,” said Burnaby Board of Education Chair Bill Brassington. “This is one of many projects in schools that remind us that we are all connected and that acts of kindness are important in creating inclusive communities. We are grateful for the partnerships that enhance our communities beyond the walls of our schools.”

Seniors also received a silicone bracelet with the words “Loved & Never Alone.” For their creativity and care, students who participated in the project also received a bracelet with the message “Kindness Ambassador.”

“We found that as simple as these bracelets are, they build community connections and make both the students and seniors feel part of a bigger, more supportive, and connected community,” said Chris Revitt, manager of park operations for the City of Burnaby and co-founder and volunteer for the IAK Foundation. “They will see other students or community members out in public wearing the same bracelet and know that they are part of a larger community.”

Burnaby RCMP’s 20-year-old Christmas tree still in service

Cheryl Tatelman, left with Cpl. Kalinda Link, next to the tree and a copy of the card at the Burnaby RCMP detachment. Photo: Burnaby RCMP

A tiny artificial Christmas tree that spends most of the year inside a closet at the Burnaby RCMP detachment is a real trooper. After two decades in service, the little tree is still going strong and continues to bring cheer to the folks working at Burnaby RCMP. 

In 2003, the Tatelman family from Burnaby dropped off the little Christmas tree along with a card at Burnaby RCMP. 

“Hopefully, this little tree will bring a smile to all of your faces,” the card said. “My 10-year-old son shopped through the year with me for as many little cars and police trucks and boats as we could find. Then, my 2.5-year-old grandson helped me put them in the tree and add the decorations and lights. We know many of you are away from your families, but you are not alone.” 

This year, Burnaby RCMP invited Cheryl Tatelman to the detachment to thank her again for the tree and celebrate its 20th year with the RCMP.

“Year after year, this tree helps brighten up the detachment over the holidays. It’s become an annual tradition for many of our staff members to pause and read the card every year, said Chief Supt. Graham de la Gorgendiere, the Officer in Charge of the Burnaby Detachment. “It’s amazing to see how this act of kindness has endured and become a meaningful holiday tradition.”

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Like what you just read? Do you support local journalism? Help us keep going—and growing.

Sign up for our once a week newsletter, or become an Insider to show your love for local reporters and writers.