Hand-decorated with hope

CMHA with christmas bags

Pictured from left: Jessica Carswell, CMHA; Paula Rawlinson, St. Joseph’s Family Council, Sierra Schned, St. Joseph’s Patient Council Facilitator; Cynthia Graystone, CMHA; Ron Alderman, St. Joseph’s Patient Council

Once again, members of St. Joseph’s Mental Health Care Patient 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. 

The initiative was originated seven 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 153 bags this year, one for each mental health inpatient at Parkwood Institute,” says Jessica Carswell, Mental Health Worker at CMHA Middlesex. 

This year’s goodies, such as mini-sized personal care items, treats and playing cards come in hand-decorated bags, carefully crafted by others with lived mental health experience. As an extra special touch, a festive card is included with a heartwarming message of hope from CMHA volunteers. “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 Jessica. “We want them to know that others are thinking of them.”

Sierra Schned, Patient Council Facilitator at St. Joseph’s, helps to coordinate the delivery of the gift bags, which are distributed to each patient on Christmas Day. “We are truly grateful for our strong partnership with CMHA and for the thoughtfulness of their volunteers,” says Sierra. “These kinds of gestures mean so much to the lives of the people we serve.”

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