Spreading holiday cheer

Zainab Al-Mehdar
Shawville January 2, 2022
To spread a little holiday cheer and give back to the community one local helped collect gifts that were donated and organized a group of third and sixth graders from Dr. S.E. McDowell Elementary to sing for the residents of the CAP in Shawville.
While organizing this, Erin Davis, a senior assistant, at the deputy clerk administration of the House of Commons, said it brought back many fond memories of doing this as a kid growing up in Fort-Coulonge.
Davis, being a musician herself, coached the children for almost a month with the help of one of the teachers, Alina Holmes. What surprised her the most was that 40 students signed up voluntarily and were quick to memorize almost 15 carols.
“They blew me away. They were really good. They were on key, they were on point. We made a few adjustments along the way but nowhere near what I thought it would take in terms of effort to get them to get the songs right, get the pitch right and all that stuff. I was blown away,” said Davis.
The idea came to her after reconnecting with her elementary school teacher and it brought back some fond memories so she wanted to give the kids that experience too. She decided to make a call for donations to ensure each of the seniors got a gift for the holidays.
“I thought we would end up going there and each resident would get some tiny little thing but it ended up being that they all had really nice gifts. Blankets, socks, puzzles, activities, you name it. Lots of stuff for each and so the overwhelming response like I was shocked, I really thought I would have to beg people a little bit but I almost had to turn people away. It was just really nice to see,” said Davis.
They were able to collect and give gifts to all 55 residents at the home. On Dec. 21 the kids walked over to the CAP to perform but because they couldn’t get all the seniors on one floor, the kids ended up doing two shows that day. “We kind of didn’t know that til we got there. But the kids were all for it. And so it was great,” she said.
Her goal behind organizing this event was to cheer up some of the residents who may not have family or friends visiting them during the holiday. But through that she saw how much the kids benefited from the opportunity to interact with the seniors as well, she explained.
“I think what they retained from that is that the littlest of actions may greatly impact others. So the reaction that they got was just out of this world. I think the kids really understood once we were there, why we were there,” she said.
One other reason she wanted to organize this event was remembering how much her own grandmother enjoyed being sung to when people couldn’t have visitors during covid and how it put a smile on her face. She wanted to do that for the CAP residence, she added.
For anyone who’s been to the Shawville Fair, many may know Davis from rocking out on stage with her band, Beyond Driven. Solely she sang the national anthem for the Prime Minister twice and most recently sang the national anthem at the Ottawa Senators game on Jan. 3.
After the performance the kids had such a great time they asked if they could do this every year, and as of now Davis plans on organizing it again next year and hoping to do it on a bigger scale, she explained.
“I just wanted to say a big thanks to the community for supporting the event for the seniors because without them the seniors would have not had gifts to open, so it was the smiles all around. So a huge thank you to them.”

Picture left, Abby McBane holding his gift with Jackson Williams
by his side.

Picture to the left, Edith Hogg getting a gift from one of the students from Dr. S.E. McDowell Elementary.

Right, Dr. S.E. McDowell students hand out presents.

Above, on Jan. 3 Erin Davis sang the national anthem at the Ottawa Senators game. Davis said it was a dream of hers.

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