Joice Wolter has eight kids she’s fiercely proud of.
“I am — seriously, I am,” Wolter recently said outside her Falconridge home in northeast Calgary.
Wolter has many reasons to be proud of each child but it was her two youngest kids, nine-year-old Darius and 11-year-old Kobe, who recently did something that made mom beam.
The pair, who are avid basketball players, starting mowing lawns in their neighbourhood so they could earn money to buy their single mom a birthday gift: a personalized water bottle.
Neighbours took note of the boys’ sweet gesture and decided they wanted to do something special for the family.
“They’re just great, hardworking kids,” said Preston Mortier, who lives across the street from the family with his brother and a friend.
“We noticed these kids were always outside playing and always doing everybody’s lawn around here,” Mortier said. “We just wanted to do something for them, so we made a plan for them for Christmas — we were going to get them a basketball hoop.”
The trio decided December was too far away, however, and decided to put a call out on social media to see if they could wrangle up a basketball net for the kids, who — without one — would often have one of their sisters hold her arms out in a circle to act as a hoop for them.
Within two days of posting their plea, a local businees delivered a brand new basketball net to the family.
Jason Van’t Hullenaar, whose company — Heritage Honda — bought the net, said the family’s story struck a chord with him.
“I come from an upbringing where we didn’t have a ton of money, so this one kind of pulled my heartstrings already,” Van’t Hullenaar said.
Brianne Chabay also saw the post and along with her own kids, bought jerseys and shoes for the boys.
“I just wanted to do something good — like, you know, this year has really sucked so we all wanted to do something good,” she said.
The random act of kindness helped make fast friends out of the group of stangers.
Wolter now calls Mortier and his roommates her sons and they in turn call her “Mama Joice.”
Chabay says she too has become close with the family.
“It’s just evolved into so much more,” she said. “Like, we now have a family with Joice and the kids.”
So when Wolter’s new extended family found out the kids’ new basketball hoop had been severely damaged after strong winds blew over Thursday night, they got together to figure out what they could do to help once again.
Van’t Hullenaar had also heard of the damaged net via social media and unbeknownst to anyone ordered the family another new basketball net.
He delivered the good news on Friday.
“I felt terrible, but actually being able to make it right, seeing her emotions, watching the boys’ emotions, seeing the whole family light up, that’s what it’s about,” said Van’t Hullenaar.