Shopping for donations
Sheila Kennedy and her family members line up for a photo following a shopping spree at Jonsson’s Independent in Kemptville on Dec. 2. Every single item, totalling approximately $2,000 worth of food and goods, was donated to the House of Lazarus in Mountain. Pictured, front row from left, are Sheila Kennedy, Ken Beck, Barbara Beck, Ron Jacques, Paul Telfer, Ann Heide, Harrison O’Reilly, Steve Poll, Christine Poll, Carol Bell-Smith and Madee Jacques; back row, from left are Amy Bell and Tatum O’Reilly.   Courtesy photo

KEMPTVILLE – ‘Tis the season of giving. But local woman Sheila Kennedy took that sentiment one step further by organizing a family shopping spree on behalf of the House of Lazarus (HOL) in Mounatin.

“Losing all three of my big dogs shortly before Christmas hurt a lot,” explained Kennedy, via email. “I decided that focusing on Christmas would be my therapy. Then I realized that buying gift cards and writing cheques really wasn’t rewarding or much fun.”

Kennedy organized a family gathering that included breakfast at a diner, followed by the shopping spree at Jonsson’s Independent in Kemptville on Dec. 2.

“Because I know my family and friends well, there were a few competitive contests with rewards to ramp up the whole concept,” noted Kennedy. “With input from the House of Lazarus, I decided we would pair off into teams of two for the shopping spree. We all planned and we managed to cover off all age groups from babies to seniors. My family members range in age from 15 to 86. The game was on. Of course, festive dress was required and I thank my family and friends for being adorable about this.”

Steve and Sylvie Jonsson, owners of Jonsson’s Independent, were very supportive and provided Kennedy’s family with a dedicated cash register on Dec. 2 to keep track of each team’s totals.

“We certainly were delighted when they boxed our groceries themselves and put up with our group’s nonsense,” said Kennedy. “We look forward to having them participate with us next year. The shopping was hilarious fun and watching the group work together, learn and honestly focus on the needs of others was amazing and very touching for all of us. An eye-opener for sure.”

The shopping spree resulted in just over $2,000 worth of food and goods for the HOL, which will be added to Christmas hampers for food bank clients.

“It was unanimously voted as our latest and possibly best family tradition,” concluded Kennedy. “All of us grew as a close group and within ourselves. The smiles say it all. My bottom line…best money ever spent and best time with these wonderful people. Absolutely nothing compares to being hugged by your loved ones and told ‘best Christmas gift ever, thanks.’ The dogs would be proud and we were all certainly thrilled and noticeably humbled. Merry Christmas all and please join us in our efforts any way you can. The reward is amazing.”

The HOL Food Bank serves over 100 local families each month. Of those food bank clients, 40 per cent are children and 10 per cent are seniors.

“What Sheila and her family did for us was absolutely incredible,” said Kim Merkley, HOL Client Services Manager. “They have touched so many of our clients this holiday season. We couldn’t be more grateful for their contribution and giving spirits. It’s truly inspiring.”

For more information about the HOL, visit or check out the House of Lazarus on Facebook. To donate or volunteer, call (613)-989-3830 or email