When the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions hit last year, like so many people, 80-year-old Moe Laberge was not sure what to do with his free time.
The Alberta Beach, Alta., resident got the idea to use some of the material he had lying around his house to build a birdhouse.
He enjoyed the experience so much he decided to build another … then another and another, until eventually his garage was filled with 200 birdhouses.
“Some people think, maybe, there’s something wrong with me if I build 200 birdhouses,” Laberge said jokingly.
“I enjoy doing them, so you want to just keep up doing what you like.”
Each birdhouse took about five to six hours to complete.
“It just passed the time for him,” Laberge’s daughter Shauneen Parker said. “He’s always been creative, always good with his hands.”
Laberge turned his newfound hobby into a worthy cause. He came up with the idea of selling his birdhouses and donating the money to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
The 80-year-old grandfather said he chose the Stollery because he knows it helps many families, and he had a personal experience with the hospital when his grandson stayed there 20 years ago.
“There isn’t too many people around here who haven’t experienced, for the good or the bad, the Stollery itself,” he said.
“It keeps his mind crisp, and for 80, I think he’s doing pretty darn good.”
Word has spread about Laberge’s passion project, which has resulted in strong community support. So far, he sold about 125 of the bird houses and has collected around $2,000 to donate to the Stollery.
“They’re $25 but a lot of people give more,” he said.
“I’ve had people drop off $50-$60 and just take one bird house, so that’s nice.”
Laberge said it makes him feel good to be able to help the children’s hospital, and he wishes more people focused on helping others.
“There should be more of that in the world and we wouldn’t have some of the crap that goes on right now.”
Laberge has been selling the bird houses mainly via word-of-mouth in his community of Alberta Beach, which is located about an hour west of Edmonton.
Those who want to donate directly to the Stollery can do so here.