'Ninjas' delivering surprise gift packages across Sudbury
SUDBURY -- While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on socializing with friends and family, a new group in Sudbury is hoping to help keep the community connected.
The Greater Sudbury Wine Ninjas is the latest in a growing trend of groups of its kind. The idea is simple: members of the group take turns surprising other members by delivering a gift package to their doorstep.
"We're hoping to bring everybody together in a time when everybody's got a lot of negativity going on," said Jessica Cyr, one of the organizers of the local initiative.
"There's kind of a lot of (uncertainty) with everything out there, so it's kind of a way to bring positivity to everyone and bring happiness to people that kind of need it, or a little bit of a pick-me-up."
Cyr said the idea started in Western Canada and quickly became popular here after an Ontario group was established.
In fact, when the local version launched Tuesday afternoon, they attracted more than 1,000 members in less than 24 hours.
"I didn't think it was going to take off this quickly," Cyr said. "I thought maybe over the course of a week or so, maybe we might progress to this point, but not within 24 hours.
"I was just absolutely in shock. Just from starting the page, within not even an hour we had over 300 people just on the page and from there, just hundreds and hundreds more keep gathering."
On Wednesday, Renee Montpellier got her first taste of gift-giving. While she put a strong effort forward, her ninja skills weren't there, as the home-owner returned from an errand in the middle of the act.
While the surprise was busted, the message certainly wasn’t.
"I'm excited because I want to bring a smile to someone else's face," said Montpellier. "It's nice to feel special. Everybody who receives a gift wants to give back, and you're just so excited for the person to receive what you've gotten and just to put a smile on their face."
The recipient of Montpellier's generosity was Nicole Papineau.
"This is cool! This is really nice," said Papineau.
Now the recipient of two packages, Papineau herself has 'ninja-d' three different people in Greater Sudbury.
"I'm alone here," she said. "My son works all the time so it's tough to be away from people like friends and family. So to make somebody happy, especially moms that have kids at home and are teaching and just don't get a break. It's just nice to go and surprise them."
While wine is in the name of the group, it is far from mandatory for the gift packages. Other packages delivered so far have included items such as beauty supplies and snacks.
"You can give wine, you can give any kind of body products, you can give any kind of things that you want to give actually," said Cyr. "People have been giving candles and candy and other types of treats and other types of stuff like that."
While nobody is denying the thrill of receiving a gift, Cyr said positive vibes come from being the donor, as well.
"You don't know what they're going through and what's going on in their world," she said. "You just know that you're bringing something to them and that is going to make their day -- and not even just their day, it might even make their week too!"