valentines day seniors toronto

You can send a Valentine's Day card and balloon to a long term care resident in Toronto

You can now send a resident of a long term care centre in Toronto a Valentine's Day card and a balloon through Decor District's "Send a Smile" initiative.

The balloon and event rental company normally deals in the types of custom balloon garlands, giant balloons with text, neon signs, florals and stylized backdrops you see influencers touting on Instagram on their birthdays. At this time of year, they're giving back to some folks whose faces you don't see on apps as often.

"Many residents in LTC have not been able to see and hug their loved ones since the start of the pandemic. Our hearts break for residents who are away from their families and are having to deal with the fear of this virus all on their own," reads a post from District Decor on Instagram.

"We are hoping to bring a little bit of joy to them with our send a smile initiative where YOU can purchase a balloon + valentine's day card for $10 to send to a resident in a Long-Term Care centre this Valentine's Day!"

They've already received enough donations to "send a smile" to all the residents at two long term care centres in Toronto, McCall Centre and Chartwell Pine Grove. The mother of people behind Decor District is actually a resident at McCall Centre.

"My boyfriend's mom, whom I consider my mom, we call her Mama, has been a resident at a long-term care home, McCall Centre in Toronto, for almost two years. The health care workers have taken the best care of her and kept her safe during these difficult times," Megha Dhawan of Decor District told blogTO.

"Josip, my boyfriend, and Tata, his father, are able to visit Mama every day while wearing PPE and getting tested for COVID-19 every third day. They had mentioned to me that Mama's roommate did not have any visitors since the beginning of the pandemic. This absolutely broke our hearts."

When Dhawan and Jasmine Singh of Decor District gave Josip a balloon to give to "Mama" for Christmas and saw her reaction over FaceTime, they decided they had to bring that same feeling to all the residents of the centre.

"We were inspired by the #adoptagrandparent initiative that we had seen some of our Balloon friends take on in the USA, where many small business owners are taking donations in order to send balloons to retirement homes," Dhawan and Singh told blogTO in a statement.

"We did a different take on it and decided to focus on Long-Term Care homes in the Greater Toronto Area, not limited to grandparents, because of our experience with having a loved one in this environment."

They hope to also raise enough to give bundles to all the residents at yet another centre, Chartwell Westbury, and are planning on surprising the staff and health care workers at these centres with balloon bundles as well.

"Initially our goal was to only provide all of the residents in McCall Centre, where Mama is staying, with a balloon and card each. We were so shocked to see that within 24 hours of posting our initiative on Instagram, we had received donations for over 100 bundles," say Dhawan and Singh.

"We then decided to expand to another home, where one of our fellow small business owner's grandmother is currently living, Chartwell Pine Grove. We quickly after received enough donations for both homes and decided to do a third. The support we've been receiving from everyone is overwhelming, and it says so much about how tough of a year it has been for LTC homes across the city."

In order to stay safe, they'll be dropping the balloons off outside centres on Feb. 13 and letting staff distribute the bundles inside so they spread love to hard-hit long term care communities instead of the virus. All you have to do send a smile of your own is fill out a Google form and pay by e-transfer.

"The reaction we received from the directors of these long-term care homes was incredible. They were so surprised and grateful for our initiative and accepted our offer with open arms. You could tell when speaking to them that they genuinely wanted the happiness of their residents and how much even the smallest gesture meant to them," say Dhawan and Singh.

"We would love to do this again in the future, and are planning on it as well. Our goal is to do something similar multiple times a year as we have had an amazing response. It would mean so much to us to be able to spread joy often and on different occasions to the residents and workers."

Lead photo by

Decor District

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