Nova Scotia

A mother's gift to Northwood, in memory of her dead son

A Bedford, N.S., mother is making food donations to Northwood long-term care workers to honour both the staff and her son, who died in 2013.

Simar Hundal has been dropping off food donations to Northwood. She says her son would have done the same

Simar Hundal, left, drops off a donation of individually packaged lunches for workers at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax. (Submitted by Simar Hundal)

A Bedford, N.S., mother is making food donations to Northwood long-term care workers to honour both the staff and her son, who died in 2013.

On Wednesday, Simar Hundal will be bringing individually packed lunches of butter chicken, rice, naan and vegetarian curry to the staff at Northwood's Bedford campus.

This isn't her first time donating food to Northwood. Twelve days ago, she donated 250 boxed lunches of the same food to Northwood's Halifax campus as a way to express support for the workers on shift.

"Northwood is going through a very difficult time. It's the epicentre of COVID in Nova Scotia, obviously," Hundal said.

Of the 59 deaths in Nova Scotia due to the coronavirus, 52 were residents of Northwood's Halifax campus.

Jagdeep Hundal, left, Simar Hundal and Angad Hundal. (Submitted by Simar Hundal)

Hundal said she thinks the workers are under great stress and are doing their work without the support of extended family and friends.

Hundal and her husband, Jagdeep, lost Angad in a motorcycle crash when he was 18. He was about to start a science degree at Dalhousie University. His parents took some comfort in starting a scholarship in Angad's name.

Hundal also attempts to help her community wherever possible.

"Everything I do is inspired by the memory of my son. He was a very kind person, very, very kind and gentle about people," Hundal said.

They dropped off the lunch boxes in Angad's car, as Hundal felt that was a way her son could be a part of the occasion.

"He would have loved it. He probably would have done that and said, 'Yes, mom, let me do it.' It's very emotional for me," she said.

'Overwhelmed' by kind donations

Hundal's donation is one of many that Northwood staff and residents have received in recent weeks, said Faye LeBlanc, the managing director of the Northwood Foundation.

"She shared a bit of her story and I thought it was such a heartfelt story that she wanted to connect her love for her son to doing good deeds," LeBlanc said.

She co-ordinates the drop offs of all donations so that everyone stays distanced and safe.

"Everybody is just caring, and they understand the difficulties that Northwood has seen, and they just feel helpless," LeBlanc said. "And I think it makes them feel better to do something, and I think that's lovely. It's a great gesture of kindness."

Jagdeep Hundal, father of Angad Hundal, helps deliver food to Northwood workers. (Submitted by Simar Hundal)

She said many people and organizations have chosen to buy staff lunch or treat residents to something special. With the exception of the lunch donations for the staff, which must be prepared under safe food handling conditions in a commercial kitchen, everything that comes into the facility is quarantined for 48-72 hours to make sure it's safe.

"The staff are really overwhelmed with the generosity of the public. They're often in tears to think that people think so highly and so kindly of them," she said.

Starting yesterday, Northwood said family members will also be able to drop off small non-perishable items such as a suitcase of summer clothes for their loved ones. Those items will be quarantined for 72 hours before being delivered to residents.

Angad Hundal died in 2013. (Submitted by Simar Hundal)

The pandemic has placed many pressures on Hundal; she's a dentist and owns four clinics around Halifax. She has been unable to practise since the beginning of the pandemic, and has staff members and ongoing expenses, including commercial mortgages.

She said working to help others and creative projects like painting and writing have helped her.

"It's kind of hard, but I think that's not the most important part in my life. I think I will survive," she said. "If it's just a period that we can pass through by staying positive, helping each other, trying to do something constructive, learning from it, I think we will grow out of it better."