Advertisement

Saskatchewan ‘ninja’ groups delivering anonymous gifts, cautioned by police

Saskatchewan ‘ninja’ groups delivering anonymous gifts, cautioned by police
WATCH: Strangers, connecting through 'ninja' Facebook groups drop off gifts for each other anonymously.

With a lot of creativity — and a little stealth — thousands of women in Saskatchewan are dropping off anonymous gifts for strangers to spread joy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private Facebook groups, almost exclusively female, help organize the acts of kindness between those delivering — “ninjas” — and the recipient.

“Not only is it a wonderful feeling when you get ninja’d, but it’s such a good feeling to give, too,” said Jameen Bomboir, who runs the roughly 500-member Sask Coffee Ninjas.

READ MORE: ‘Wine ninjas’ spreading kindness in Alberta but online expert warns of security issues

Rules may differ slightly between groups, but the premise is the same — members wanting to receive a gift, share their address on the page for a ninja to select.

Story continues below advertisement

While the sentiment of ninja groups is rooted in kindness, the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) urged people Tuesday to “proceed with caution” when sharing information online.

“In a perfect world, we would all like to believe that everyone is there for the right reasons, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case,” the social media post read.

Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan expands testing criteria as province reopens
Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan expands testing criteria as province reopens

According to the SPS, some people in these groups include more than just an address, providing details about themselves and their children, all linking back to profiles with more information.

“I enjoy it so much and I know a lot of other people are enjoying it. You just never know what it could do for someone who might be struggling behind closed doors.”

Bomboir acknowledged the risk of someone with ulterior motives joining the group, and said all incoming members have to answer three general question before gaining access.

Story continues below advertisement

She also ensures people who are invited to join – which allows them to preview the page in full – aren’t on the pending list for more than two days.

Some ninjas wear elaborate costumes to keep the delivery anonymous.
Some ninjas wear elaborate costumes to keep the delivery anonymous. Lisa Maloney / Submitted

“I try my hardest to just keep track of everybody that’s on there and who’s trying to join,” she said, adding the group is continuing on at this point.

“I enjoy it so much and I know a lot of other people are enjoying it. You just never know what it could do for someone who might be struggling behind closed doors.”

Hundreds of photos and videos posted to Saskatchewan Wine Ninjas show members having fun dressing up in all kinds of costumes, sneaking up to front doors to deliver the goods undetected.

READ MORE: Airdrie kindergarten students initiate former Calgary Flames captain as ‘kindness ninja’

Story continues below advertisement

“I haven’t stopped smiling since I dropped off that gift bag and I almost feel guilty because I feel like doing this was more for me than for the stranger I gave it to,” said Dedreha Harley.

For 58-year-old Debby Kivimaa, the ninja experience was a welcome reprieve during a difficult time.

Kivimaa’s 34-year-old son died by suicide on April 6. She’s been grieving while in isolation at her remote home near Turtle Lake, Sask.

“It’s been horrible, a black hole,” she said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: How Saskatchewan communities are spreading kindness during a pandemic

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kivimaa hasn’t been able to see her daughter-in-law or her three-year-old grandson.

Her neighbour, a close friend who was also grieving the recent loss of her mother, invited Kivimaa to the Saskatchewan Wine Ninjas page.

After receiving their ninja gifts, Kivimaa and her neighbour got together to pay it forward for others with remote addresses. They also dropped some off for people in their community who weren’t on the online page.

“For two days, I had such a relief from the pain, but not only that, so much excitement,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Okanagan company taking ‘be kind’ to new level with community challenge

“I didn’t expect how much fun, how much joy, how exciting it is to give. Maybe, at my age, I just needed that reminder.”

Kivimaa said she’s received an outpouring of support, through public comments and private messages, after posting about her joyful giving experience on the Facebook page.

“We just got over mental health week, it’s a big topic, and it’s really near and dear to my heart right now,” she said.

“So if going and making somebody smile gives them a reason to get up in the morning, awesome.”