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COVID-19 distance inspired Calgary woman to create ‘pay it forward’ project

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 distance inspired Calgary woman to create ‘pay it forward’ project' COVID-19 distance inspired Calgary woman to create ‘pay it forward’ project
WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic forced most people to be apart from loved ones, particularly those in long-term care homes. But a Calgary woman has created an initiative to defy that distance with one simple gift. Jill Croteau reports. – Apr 20, 2021

As a first-time mom, Nichelle Anstey was experiencing all the feels. But she said there was one part in the state of her motherhood mind that made her wonder.

“I was thinking if it’s even possible to feel beautiful as a mom.

“There are so many life changes and body changes and I thought: ‘Can I even feel beautiful?'” Anstey said.

Nichelle and her son, Everett. Courtesy: Nichelle Anstey

It inspired a search to find that beauty far beyond her appearance, nurturing it from within.

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But she discovered an even bigger purpose: to make others feel just as reassured.

“One of my deepest regrets is I didn’t appreciate the time I had with my grandparents when I was a child. My grandma is the last one surviving and she lives alone. She’s 94, it can be lonely and isolating,” Anstey said.

Nichelle with her grandmother. Courtesy: Nichelle Anstey

She mailed her a silk scarf to her grandmother’s home in Hong Kong, enclosing a card that read: “You are beautiful.”

“She said: ‘Who me? Beautiful?’ It’s as if she was in disbelief,” Anstey said.

She designed the abstract patterns herself and also gifted one to her son Everett’s grandmother Denise Anstey.

Denise Anstey, Nichelle’s mother-in-law and Everett’s grandmother. Jill Croteau/Global News

“It was a total surprise when she gave it to me. It was wonderful.

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“I am a mom of three sons and they are all older and I have my first grandchild and you feel old most of the time,” Denise Anstey said.

“It was such a blessing to receive the gift from Nichelle.”

Each design was created from her own motherhood memories with her son.

Nichelle Anstey. Jill Croteau/Global News

“One is when my son was a newborn he would fall asleep on my chest. Another is when I get my son and he is on the top of his crib smiling, and the last one is when my son reaches out for me,” Anstey said.

She wanted others to have the chance to strengthen generational bonds in their own lives with these endearing unexpected gestures. She launched a website offering the scarves for purchase.

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Madi Fulton gave one to her mom.

“It was a really special moment between her and I,” Fulton said.

Madi’s mom showing off her gifted scarf. Courtesy: Madi Fulton

“It’s a reminder beauty isn’t what you look like but it’s the depths of your relationship with other people and things that encompass your beauty.”

Part of the proceeds of the sales will go towards Emma House, a charity that provides housing and support for expectant moms.

“You can do a beautiful action, sending a gift and seeing your mom or grandma happy, that makes you feel beautiful and you want to do more beautiful actions and it just keeps going,” Anstey said.

“That’s my hope with this project.”

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