Her name is Peggy Henrickson, but to the kids of Sicamous, she’s Grandma Peggy.
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, Henrickson was stapling festive cards that said “Reindeer Soup” to individual bags of hot chocolate and mini-marshmallows piled high on her dining table.
Behind her, in her kitchen, trays of Christmas cookies sat on top of a stove that was baking more cookies. Not an inch of counter space was wasted.
The extra-festive treats were to be included in the following day’s breakfast program at Parkview Elementary School in Sicamous. Every school day, volunteers assemble a breakfast tray for each class at Parkview. While Christmas treats are involved right now, the trays always contain things like bagels and fresh fruit so any student can have a well-rounded meal.
Earlier in the day, students from Parkview had stopped by to surprise Henrickson with a gift: two Adirondack chairs, adorned with the students’ hand prints stamped on with paint. When Henrickson opened her front door, she found about 40 students serenading her to the tune of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Overcome with emotion and fighting back tears, Henrickson was thankful and humbled.
“(People) are always saying, ‘oh you’re so great.’ I’m not that great, it’s just what I do,” said Henrickson after the students had left. “I don’t feel that I’m a big part of the community, I just feel if there’s something that needs to be done… step up and do it.”
Henrickson responded to a call for breakfast program volunteers in September 2020 and hasn’t stopped since.
“I’m up anyway,” said Henrickson. “And I get to be in the school, that’s where my heart is.”
Originally from Alberta, Henrickson worked at a school in High Level for 25 years. When her first granddaughter was born, she opened a daycare and ran that for about 10 years. She moved to Sicamous with her husband in 2017, being familiar with the area as they had vacationed in the Shuswap for about 30 years.
Henrickson’s passion has always been helping kids succeed.
“I just want to take them all under my wing and make sure they’re safe and happy and fed… and can read, that’s really important.”
In addition to her work with the breakfast program, Henrickson also reads stories and plays alphabet games with students who can use some extra help.
When she first moved to Sicamous, she almost started a daycare again even though she’d just retired and was enjoying the free time. Henrickson found herself shedding tears as she was away from doing what she loved until she began volunteering for the students at Parkview.
“They’re all like my grandkids,” said Henrickson. “They’re all a little piece of my heart… I’ve never met a child I don’t like, no, that I don’t love.”