Cards brighten man’s first Christmas after losing wife

By on January 4, 2017

One Lancaster County man is having an unexpectedly merry Christmas, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

The daughters of longtime Manheim resident Clair Bard estimate that more than 2,000 people responded to their request for help to cheer up their father, who recently lost his wife of more than four decades.

“My dad is a WWII veteran, is 89, lost his wife in August and is now living in assisted living, ” Chris Lundstrom posted on Facebook from Texas, where she lives. “Most of his friends have already passed. If you are making out Christmas cards this year and are so inclined, would you add him to your list? I’m thinking he would be thrilled to receive some Christmas cards at his new home.”

She listed his mailing address and concluded, “It will make my Christmas too.”

Lundstrom said her initial post was shared more than 35 times.

Clair Bard, formerly of Manheim, shows a few of the Christmas cards he received while sitting in his room at Oak Leaf Manor North. (Photo by Blaine Shahan)

Clair Bard, formerly of Manheim, shows a few of the Christmas cards he received while sitting in his room at Oak Leaf Manor North. (Photo by Blaine Shahan)

“It’s little things like this that we can do to make someone’s day less lonely and brighter,” she said. “For all that is said against social media, it has its good points as well.”

Her sisters who live in Montana and Washington state and Manheim, made similar requests. They got a lot of responses, from people they knew and people they didn’t.

Bard has received the first wave of cards, including about 30 from kindergarten and first-grade students.

“If you’d see them, you’d laugh a little bit,” he said. “A lot of them have Bible verses in, and thank me for my service, and most say Merry Christmas. These are little kids! I guess the teachers sort of helped them.”

Bard has also received numerous other cards from states including the ones his daughters live in, North Dakota, West Virginia and Florida.

Among Bard’s receipts were thousands of cards from Texas. Bard and his family hatched a plan to share those cards with his fellow residents at Oak Leaf Manor North following lunch some day — something he looked forward to immensely.

“It’ll make me feel good, let’s put it that way,” he said. “I’ll be able to make someone else’s day good for them.”

Kathleen Gerhart, the daughter who lives here, said she hopes the story encourages people to reach out to those who might be lonely, whether it’s friends they haven’t connected with for a while or residents at the nearest retirement home.

“I hope somebody hears about this and says, ‘Let’s make some cards,’” she said. “They don’t need to get 2,000 cards. They don’t need to get 200 cards. Two or three cards would make their day.”

Heather Stauffer is an LNP staff writer. She can be reached at HStauffer@lnpnews.com or 481-6022.

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