Hand-decorated for the holidays

Once again, members of St. Joseph’s Mental Health Care Patient’s Council teamed up with individuals from the Canadian Mental Health Association - Middlesex (CMHA) to help spread a little Christmas cheer to inpatients.

In what’s now become an annual, seasonal tradition, a group from CMHA has put together gift items for each patient within Parkwood Institute’s various mental health care programs who will be spending time in hospital over the holidays. 


Pictured from left: Afsaneh Azari, CMHA; Cynthia Graystone, CMHA; Ron Alderman, St. Joseph’s Patient Council member, Rachel Hudson, St. Joseph’s Patient’s Council Facilitator; Wendy Chisholm, CMHA

The initiative was originated nine years ago by individuals accessing services at CMHA, and continues to be supported by a dedicated group of peer volunteers. “Our volunteers decorated and stuffed 140 gift bags this year, one for each mental health inpatient at Parkwood Institute who will be in hospital over Christmas,” says Afsaneh Azari, mental health worker at CMHA Middlesex. 

Gift bags distributed by staff on Christmas Day

This year’s goodies, such as socks, mini-sized personal care items, treats and playing cards come in hand-decorated gift bags, carefully crafted by CMHA volunteers with lived mental health experience. As an extra special touch, a festive card is included with a heartwarming message of hope.

“It feels good to know we are able to make even a small difference for individuals who may be struggling over the holiday season,” adds Afsaneh. “We want them to know that others are thinking of them.”


Rachel Hudson, Patient Council Facilitator at St. Joseph’s, helps to coordinate the delivery of the gift bags to each unit, which are distributed by staff to each patient on Christmas Day. “We are truly grateful for our strong partnership with CMHA and for the thoughtfulness of their volunteers,” says Rachel.

“This kind and simple gesture means so much to the lives of the people we serve.”

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