A heartfelt valentine for P.E.I. veterans

Maureen Coulter comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 15, 2016

Master Seaman Sara Hartt hands Miles Matheson of Beach Grove Home a valentine. Children created Valentine cards that were delivered to veterans across Prince Edward Island by members of HMCS Queen Charlotte. The cards help show veterans how much they are appreciated and valued all year long.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

Children in communities across Island make handmade Valentine's Day cards for those in care facilities

Keith Anderson couldn't help but shed a tear after receiving a handmade card from a young Islander for Valentine's Day.

"I appreciate it more than anything," said Anderson. "It sort of broke me up. It's down lying on my bed. It's a heart for Valentine's Day, wishing me a Happy Valentine's Day."

The card was signed by Tim with a series of X's and O's.

The 82-year-old veteran, who lives at the Garden Home in Charlottetown, received the card on Feb. 11 just in time to warm his heart on Feb. 14.

"It was a great gesture. The way it was printed, it was a kid. They must have been five or six years old," said Anderson who is originally from Morell.

Anderson was one of 75 veterans to receive these handmade cards by Island students from the Valentine's for Vets program.

SLIDESHOW: More veterans showing their cards

For the past 26 years, Veterans Affairs Canada has invited schools, individuals and organizations to take part in the program by making Valentine's Day cards for veterans in long-term care facilities across the country.

The cards used to be mailed to P.E.I. by the federal department until HMCS Queen Charlotte customized the program three years ago to have young Islanders make the cards instead.

"I saw the close-knitted community of Prince Edward Island, and we thought we could go one step further," said Jim Smith, training and deck officer at HMCS Queen Charlotte.

"We could go out to the schools ourselves, have them decorate Valentine's and we could take them around the province and personally hand deliver them."

Smith said this also gives the naval reserve division the opportunity to sit down and talk to children about veterans and their sacrifices.

"We remember them not only during Remembrance Day but at all times of the year as well."

The cards are being hand-delivered by members of the HMCS Queen Charlotte's naval reserve division to 20 long-term care facilities across the province from O'Leary to Souris and everywhere in between.

This is the first year the reserve is getting to each long-term care facility on P.E.I.

Anderson said he was touched by the gesture and thinks this program is a great idea. He plans to display his card on top of his guitar case.

"It hits the heart. I have a soft spot for kids."

maureen.coulter@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/MaureenElizaC