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Spreading kindness is getting Yukoners through 2020

This year has been one that none of us will forget anytime soon, but for many in Yukon, spreading and receiving kindness has been key to getting through fear and uncertainty during the pandemic.

Yukoners share their stories about the importance of giving back this holiday season

Volunteers in Faro took an 18-foot trailer and converted it into a Santa sleigh that they took around town, while blasting Christmas music and spreading cheer. (Kara Went)

This year has been one that none of us will forget anytime soon.

But for many in Yukon, spreading and receiving kindness has been key to getting through all of the fear and uncertainty during the pandemic.

Kara Went, who lives in Faro, Yukon, says her family has a bit of a motto where they always give "kindness and kind acts" to others.

She said the pandemic has been a good time for them to focus on helping others.

"We enjoy teaching our four kids on how to give back to your community, how to be kind, how to help elders, how to help others who have less than you do, and we want that tradition to be passed down," she said.

A toy for every child

So when Faro needed a volunteer to take on its special Christmas Santa program, the family stepped up. Every year, with the help of an appointed head elf, Santa visits the community and delivers presents to every child there.

This year, Went took on the role as head elf, a position that was particularly challenging during the pandemic. She wrote to local businesses to see if they could help out with donations.

With all of the support, they were able to get a present and a gift bag from Angellina's Toy Boutique in Whitehorse for every child in Faro under the age of 12 — a total of 79 children.

An 18-foot trailer, far right, was converted into Santa's sleigh in Faro, Yukon. The ambulance and the fire truck escorted Santa's sleigh around town to spread good cheer. (Kara Went)

Volunteers in Faro took an 18-foot trailer and converted it into a Santa sleigh that he took around town, while being escorted by the local fire truck and an ambulance while blasting Christmas music and spreading cheer.

"We directed Santa all around town, and he was able to make stops at every kid's house age 12 and under, and he was able to visit each kid and drop off the presents," said Went.

'Little but significant acts'

Community kindness was also felt in Whitehorse this year.

Jason Cook, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance leader at Porter Creek Secondary School (PCSS), said he has endless examples about a group of students who spread kindness on a daily basis.

"From comforting each other when someone is feeling down to helping with homework, or even sharing a lunch when someone doesn't have enough food. These are little but significant acts of kindness witnessed every day in the PCSS Rainbow Room."

Educator Jason Cook says he's seen countless examples of students who have spread kindness on a daily basis at Porter Creek Secondary School. (Danielle d'Entremont/CBC)

One of Cook's favourite memories this fall happened when the internet wasn't working during what was supposed to be a movie screening over lunch hour.

The lunch crowd tends to be a bit younger, he said, and a little shy. But without skipping a beat, one of the Grade 12 students sat at the front of the class and entertained their fellow students for the entire hour by reading dad jokes aloud.

"I watched a group of kids come to life. They shared joy and laughter with one another. This simple act of kindness brought them out of their shells, and I saw students connecting with other students for the first time."

Helpers group created during pandemic

One group in the territory really stands out when it comes to helping others in the territory. The Yukon Helpers Network Facebook group was created early on in the pandemic.

Ashley Fewer has led the group to help connect people needing a hand, along with help from others, when she herself was feeling the need to reach out to her community for support.

"I think people are noticing the need and the beauty in what we can do when we come together as a community, we can move mountains," said Fewer.

She said they have seen people helping each other in incredible and selfless ways.

Klondike Cakes donated pies to the Yukon Helpers Network Facebook group baked who delivered them as part of their Christmas hampers. (Ashley Fewer)

They have seen people spreading holiday kindness from matching families with hamper baskets, to someone who donated $300 cash to give to another family, connecting people to buy Christmas presents for other families.

She said it has been incredibly uplifting to see the territory come together during a year that has been so challenging for everyone.

"[The kindness] always has existed. I think that there was just so much unknown circumstances going on, it was easier to pick out the negative than it was the positive. But I think having something to shine a light on things is really important especially during a pandemic."

Written by Danielle d'Entremont, with files from Jane Sponagle and Dave White

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