When a Port McNeill woman put out a call on social media to help her mother in the Comox Valley celebrate her 99th birthday, she was overwhelmed by the response.
These days, Roberta Bonora Day has to visit from outside through a window, when she can visit, because of COVID-restrictions. Her mother can have one designated person to come in for visiting once a week, and as Bonora Day’s brother lives in the Comox Valley, it makes sense for him to be the official visitor.
Unable to attend for a regular in-person visit on the Jan. 15 birthday, she hoped the community could help. so she put out the word on social media.
“I was wondering … how I could make her birthday a little special because she can’t have her whole family come in with a cake,” she said. “It just took right off.”
She expected a few responses. She says Cumberland Lodge where mom Dot lives has received at least 220 cards in the mail to send birthday greetings. She had heard about the numbers from her niece who works at the lodge but she was able to visit the site a couple of days later and see the volume herself.
Then there were the students from Cumberland Community School. They sent more greetings, and they went even further as a large group of them trekked over to the lodge to sing “Happy Birthday” to Dot.
After seeing the Facebook post, CCS principal Tracey Croonen said she contacted Bonora Day to tell her she could arrange for students to make cards for the birthday, while staff helped out and senior students made a banner.
“With organization from our leadership teacher, Jina Taylor, our senior classes went across the street to the lodge on their lunch hour with the banner and cards to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ through an open window,” she told the Record. “Our school has a strong connection to the lodge and miss having regular visits and contact.”
The gesture did not go unnoticed at the latest board of education meeting, as School District 71 superintendent Tom Demeo spoke about how staff and students combined their efforts to provide some cheer for the resident on her special day.
“This is just an act of kindness,” he said. “I really want to commend the school.”
As well, Bigfoot Donuts sent a large box of 99 treats, while other people sent flowers. Bonora Day was thrilled by the response to her mother’s birthday and adds her mom was surprised to learn all those cards were for her.
“I think she felt pretty darned special,” she said.
Dot was born in Cumberland at the exact site where she now lives, which used to serve as the hospital.
“She was born in the property that she now resides in,” Bonora Day said. “I look forward to the day when I can sit with her in her room and we can look at all those cards together.”