West Island initiative aims to send letters to seniors due to COVID-19

A West Island initiative is working to send letters to seniors isolated as part of Quebec's COVID-19 response. Sebastien Gagnon-Dorval / Global News

A Kirkland, Que., resident is calling on the community to write letters to seniors in care homes who are isolated due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Alana Edwards, who founded the Be a Santa to a Senior initiative aimed at buying gifts for seniors back in December, said many people have reached out to her with a new idea: writing letters to seniors in residences.

Local residents Vanessa Parasuco Borsellino and Kyley Philpas approached Edwards with the idea amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has led Quebec Premier François Legault to ban all visits to the facilities in an effort to limit the virus’ spread.

As of Monday, there have been 41 confirmed cases of the virus in the province, including one child. A total of 1,834 people are under investigation and awaiting test results, while 2,577 tests have come back negative.

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The virus is especially dangerous for elderly people. As part of the province’s response to the virus, seniors over the age of 70 are also asked to stay home until further notice.

“We have to, as a society, be capable of protecting our older citizens,” Legault said on Saturday at a news conference in Quebec City.

Now, the Brighten Their Day initiative is aimed at doing exactly that.

“They especially need a loving touch right now, and staff is completely overworked,” said Edwards.

She’s hoping to reach out to more than 50 seniors residences across the island of Montreal.

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Les Pavillions LaSalle and Les Residences Vivendi have already agreed to receive the letters.

“When you give people the outlet, they’re willing to help — they want to help,” said Edwards. “Our community is based on helping people. The West Island is such a giving community.”

Edwards said the response has been quite positive since she decided to allow people to send emailed letters rather than paper letters — which could possibly be contaminated with germs.

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“I’ve already started writing and crafting some letters with my children,” she said. “It’s also important to reconnect the old and the new. It’s a great way to teach children about seniors and all they’ve done.”

Letters written as part of the initiative can be sent to

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