2020 has had its challenges, but in typical Saskatchewan fashion, community spirit remained high as many chose to find the good within the coronavirus pandemic.
And as the year comes to an end, Global News looks back at the 10 most heartwarming, feel-good stories of 2020.
10 — McVeety School students in Regina receive special visit from teachers
Staff decorated their vehicles with heartfelt messages and drove around the city visiting students at their homes.
“We are doing a staff car parade. We got all of our students’ addresses and are driving around and waving to them and giving them books,” said pre-kindergarten teacher Anessa Eckert back on April 24.
“It’s one thing to see your teacher in a video on a screen, but to actually wave at them and give them a book, it just meant so much to us. We miss them, so getting to see them is like nothing else.”
The students were just as excited to see the teachers.
Original story done by Jonathan Guignard.
9 — Tinkles the Elf for hire returns: ‘Finding a fun little way to give back’
Throughout the pandemic, Brett Williams has tried to lighten the mood by bringing out various entertainment characters to help children and adults alike.
For the holidays, he brought back an old yuletide character, Tinkles the Elf.
For the past two years, Williams has donned the hat, ears and of course pointy shoes to bring the six-foot-tall pixie act to schools, seniors’ homes and private parties.
“I happened to have the elements of this sweet costume at home,” Williams said on Dec. 15. “And, I thought I could put it to good use.”
During his day job as a youth counsellor, Williams said he sees the impact that the pandemic has had on both children and their families on a daily basis, prompting him to bring Tinkles back to life.
Original story done by Brenden Purdy.
8 — Northern Saskatchewan families to receive 1,700 Christmas gifts from community organization
Children North, a family support organization in La Ronge, shipped roughly 1,700 gifts to families in 12 northern communities.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said executive director Daina Lapworth on Dec. 9.
“We’re not sure what Christmas is going to look like this year, so it’s nice to be able to just have some gifts and some board games and gingerbread houses and some fun stuff to do as a family.”
Community members and organizations donated about $17,000 to ensure northern families have a gift or two under the Christmas tree this year.
Original story done by Anna McMillan.
7 — Regina man transforms Harbour Landing backyard into a rail yard
When Larry Mything retired, he had one goal: Find a hobby to keep busy and include his grandchildren.
After scouring the internet, Mything got the ambitious idea to build a train in his Harbour Landing backyard in Regina — one that could fit a couple of children up to around the age of 10, which would be perfect for his two grandsons, Evan and Parker.
“It’s basically a kids project for big kids and little kids — big kids like me,” Mything said on Aug. 26.
While there’s something magical about trains that capture the attention of young hearts, his grandchildren also lent a hand when it came to construction. After all, they were the inspiration behind the project.
“I tried to include them where I could. They know how to run a drill and a screwdriver. We even did some wiring.”
As for any other projects on the horizon, Mything said he’s not sure but that the possibilities are endless.
Original story done Katelyn Wilson.
6 — Retired Saskatchewan health-care worker with cancer receives ‘overwhelming’ support
Bonnie Cameron has spent most of her life helping people, but since being diagnosed with cancer last fall, she herself has been on the receiving end of help from family and friends.
Fortunately, Cameron has a strong support system by her side — in particular, her husband, Sonny.
“My husband has been my rock. My absolute rock. I’d never be able to get through any of this without him,” Cameron said on Dec. 2.
He wasn’t the only one. On Nov. 28, friends and family travelled to Bethune from all over Saskatchewan and even Alberta to shower her with love.
Leading the way, was her longtime time friend John Van Deurzen from Cochrane, Alta. He and Sonny organized a parade of cars that drove by her home sharing words of encouragement.
Original story done by Jonathan Guignard.
5 — Pet goose that survived fox attack now internet hero, Moose Jaw mayoral candidate
Steve the Goose has made quite the name for himself after surviving a fox attack about four years ago.
After Steve went missing, Shymko said she received an email from a friend that indicated a fox had been spotted down the road – carrying a white goose in his mouth.
“We just figured he was gone … we were sad. We were actually quite devastated,” she said on July 31, adding hundreds more messages of support came in after she updated everyone online.
“We thought he was gone — until the next morning and Steve was at our back door, pecking, wanting to get in.”
From that attention, a stranger began a social media campaign for Steve the Goose to be the next mayor of Moose Jaw.
Of course, as a goose, Steve couldn’t become mayor, but the story put a positive spin on Moose Jaw’s fall election.
Original story done by Daniella Ponticelli.
4 — Saskatoon couple doesn’t let coronavirus pandemic spoil dream wedding
When Dani Mario and Dustin Wawryk started planning their June 27 wedding, they envisioned a small ceremony followed by a reception centred around the Saskatchewan JazzFest in Saskatoon.
“Our original plan was to have our immediate family and then my partner, Dustin, still has his grandparents, so we were going to have them as well — and that was it,” Mario said.
The pandemic forced Mario and Wawryk to switch gears.
Travel restrictions were put in place by the federal and Saskatchewan governments, and many events were cancelled, including the JazzFest.
“We were able to come up with a plan that allowed us to have nearly everyone we wanted to have there, except for a few exceptions that just ripped at my heart,” Mario said.
Their revised plans included livestreaming the ceremony so those unable to attend could watch.
Original story done by David Giles.
3 — Community raises money for victim of Regina home invasion
Regina resident Calvin Williams lives with a disability and uses a wheelchair. At the end of November, he was the victim of a home invasion.
Williams said the intruder made off with several items including gold chains, an Apple Watch and a Chicago Bulls hat.
Allie Mohrbutter is a manager at the South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre and works with Williams.
She started an online fundraiser with a goal of $250 to replace the watch, which she said gave Williams a sense of independence.
It didn’t take long before the community raised more than $3,000.
“God really paid him back double for his trouble with the outpouring of support from the people in Regina … he works at Walmart as a greeter and everybody loves him,” Mohrbutter said on Dec. 1.
As for Williams, he said through it all, he’s learned that if you need help, just ask.
“I would like to say thank you for everything they did for me.”
Original story done by Katelyn Wilson.
2 — The Saskatoon Second World War veteran with a connection to Snowbirds
May 14 was one of the few times 98-year-old Reg Harrison went out of his house in the previous two months, when he had the chance to meet some current members of the Snowbirds.
It’s been a few decades, but he used to consider himself a reasonably good pilot.
“Well, the first time I saw the Snowbirds fly, I came to the conclusion that I’m really not a very good pilot after all. So I’m always amazed thrilled when I see the Snowbirds,” Harrison said on May. 14.
He was part of the first 431 squadron during the Second World War as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Harrison said he reminisces about his time in Europe whenever he sees the Snowbirds perform.
“It brings back a lot of memories for me because when you get to my age — I’m 98 years old — you have a lot of time to reflect,” he said.
In 2018, Harrison was named an honourary member of the Snowbirds for his military service.
Original story done by Kyle Benning.
1 — Saskatoon woman, 96, reunited with long-lost love letters discovered in home renovation
In June, a North Battleford couple was renovating their basement before putting the home on the market. As Kenny Moccasin tore down wood panelling in a storage room, some insulation tumbled to the floor.
A green, purse-like leather case landed on the soft, pink material. Undoing the clasp and opening the case, he found hundreds of love letters.
“The first thing I saw was the date: 1946, New Year’s,” Moccasin said on July 16.
The letters, sent from J.A. Richards of Lashburn to W. Parry, began with “To My Very Own Darling.” They painted a picture of two young lovers separated following the Second World War.
She was determined to find the descendants of either the author or his muse.
Through a combination of social-media sleuthing and communication with Lashburn town officials, she tracked down someone even better.
W. Parry, now named Wynne Richards, was alive and living in a seniors’ housing community in Saskatoon. She’d owned the same North Battleford house before Moccasin and his wife Noella Mitsuing.
She’d stashed the letters in her basement storage room to keep them safe. When she moved 140 kilometres east to Saskatoon, her leather writing case didn’t make the trip with her.
“It’s like having Jim back with me. I haven’t read them all yet. It will take me a long time,” Richards said at the time.
“After 10 years, they showed up. That’s why I call it a miracle.”
Richards met her husband in Bournemouth, England.
Original story done by Ryan Kessler.
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