A taste of Christmas spirit in a stocking

Dave Stewart
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Barb Dunphy, left, president of the newly formed Greater Charlottetown Women's Institute, and Janice Morrison, manager of volunteer services at the QEH, examine some of the many little Christmas stockings that will be stuffed with a candy cane and presented to patients.

Patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Prince Edward Home and Hillsborough Hospital will receive candy cane in a stocking on Christmas Day

Women's Institute groups across the province are making sure some of the people stuck inside on Dec. 25 get a taste of Christmas.

Close to 500 patients and residents at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hillsborough Hospital and Prince Edward Home will be getting a candy cane inside a Christmas stocking, most of them hand-knit, with their Christmas dinner.

"This is something that has been a tradition here at the hospital for years and it's pretty nice,'' said Barb Dunphy, president of the newly formed Greater Charlottetown Women's Institute and CEO of the QEH Foundation. "Women's Institute's right across the Island, not just ours, have been providing stockings for her so that she can put them on the meal trays on Christmas Day, which is a really nice touch.''

The 'her' Dunphy is referring to is Katriona Wilson, manager of nutrition services at the QEH. Wilson was the assistant manager when the stockings idea was first launched in 1985.

Janice Morrison, manager of volunteer services at the QEH, said it's their job to fill them.

"We have volunteers who put the candy canes in the stockings and put them in a bag and give them to nutrition services. They put them on the meal trays on Christmas Day for the patients,'' Morrison said.

Dunphy said it's just one of the many ways the organization attempts to reach out to the community.

"Another thing that our Women's Institute decided to do last month was provide some clothing for the Bedford MacDonald House. We just brought underwear, socks, razors, hats and mitts and things like that. That was our roll call on craft night and then we stayed and made stockings for the hospital. It was a really nice evening where you felt like you contributed.''

The Christmas stocking effort is one of the first programs the Greater Charlottetown W.I. has taken part in. Dunphy was the driving force behind getting the group off the ground.

"I really had an interest in starting a Women's Institute in Charlottetown. My mother was always a member. I grew up in the country and it was something I felt was a beautiful concept. They do such wonderful work in the community, from helping schools to helping hospitals.''

The giving from community groups doesn't stop there. One year, well-known Island fiddler Richard Wood gave patients at the QEH reason to tap their feet and students from Eliot River school in Cornwall will be dropping by the hospital before Christmas with wreaths for each department.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hillsborough Hospital, QEH Foundation Bedford MacDonald House Institute in Charlottetown Eliot River school

Geographic location: Iceland, Greater Charlottetown Women, Cornwall

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