Timmins military family starts surprise gift group for kids
TIMMINS -- While "Wine Ninjas" and "Rona Fairies" are trending across the country, the Babin family in Timmins noticed that children were missing out on the spirit of giving during this pandemic.
And so Paul Babin and his wife, Ariona Babin Fitzpatrick, decided to create their own "Rona Fairy Kids Edition" in northern Ontario, to lift some little spirits.
"They can't hang out with their friends, they can't see their family, they can’t go to school... their entire life changed," said Ariona. "As adults, we can get through it. Kids, not so much."
The group started as a family effort in early May and is gaining traction in the region, with over 650 members.
(Timmins resident receives a surprise ‘Rona Fairy’ gift bag, filled with anything from toys to snacks. May 31/2020 Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)
The idea is for community members to post their interest in receiving a surprise and for volunteer 'fairies' to make personalized gifts and secretly deliver them.
The spirit of the initiative says Paul, is to have a balance of giving and getting gifts — and most importantly, spread some smiles.
As a member of the local Algonquin Regiment in the Canadian Army, he says morale training is key to help deal with tough situations and he thinks that’s something Canadians need as they battle this crisis.
"Morale is pretty low amongst a lot of families here in Ontario and all across Canada," said Paul. "If we can start something here and get some smiles back on some families and friends and children’s faces, then that’s what we want."
As the Babin family makes "fairy" deliveries around their neighbourhood, one resident spots them as they scurry off.
Brenda Chartrand says she’s been an active volunteer fairy but never expected to receive two gift bags for her son and daughter.
"I was just really happy and I’m still shocked and my kids are going to be really happy when they get their gifts," said Chartrand. "I love the idea that everybody’s going around giving gifts to children in these unfortunate times."
(Brenda Chartrand spots her 'Rona Fairies' after they deliver two gift bags for her son and daughter. May 31/2020 Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)
A word of caution from police, though, when participating in these groups.
The Timmins Police Service is warning people to be careful about posting their personal information on social media, especially where children are concerned.
The Babins give their group members the option to private message their address for deliveries and simply indicate their interest in receiving a gift in the public forum.
As long as the community is respectful, the Babins see huge potential for their "Rona Fairy" group.
"We want all the kids to be happy," said Ariona. "I hope everybody can participate and eventually we can get all the kids to be able to get a gift in the end."