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Community rallies to help Rita celebrate her 100th birthday

'I was definitely surprised, and she was surprised,' said Samantha Cardow, who put out the request online for her grandmother's birthday

When Samantha Cardow put out a call for birthday cards for her grandmother’s 100th birthday, she was hoping for 20 extra ones. Instead, she got 238 more.

“There were so many of them,” said Cardow about the response. “I’d only rented a small P.O. box and every time I went to see them, I got huge envelopes filled with cards.”

Despite putting the call out at the end of November, Cardow said there were ‘great cards’ and many were ‘beautiful.’ 

“Some of them were homemade and you can tell people put a lot of effort into them,” said Cardow, mentioning classrooms and a local Girl Guides group also compiled cards for her grandmother's birthday. “A lot of people ended up reaching and a lot of people knew her through other people as well.”

Besides cards, there were letters, pictures of pets, some money and a caricature portrait of her grandmother, Rita Cardow.

"I can't believe somebody drew her," said Cardow about the portrait. 

“I was definitely surprised, and she was surprised,” said Cardow about Rita’s reaction. “She thought she was getting a couple of cards and I showed up with an entire basket. When she saw them, her repeated words were, ‘Holy Moly!’”

One item someone had sent was a pamphlet with events and ads from the year 1921. Cardow mentions a nice note was also added with it.

“My  favourite part was the pamphlet about the 1921 events, it was nice, she was definitely smiling while looking over old ads that she recognized.”

To help celebrate her 100th birthday, a party was held during the weekend with immediate family and extended family who came to visit. Mayor Cam Guthrie also dropped by.

Along with celebrations, Cardow said Rita also received a letter from Parliament and a ‘Happy 100th Birthday’ sign out on her front lawn.

“She had a lot of visitors, even second and third cousins that I never knew I had,” said Cardow about the party. “She was exhausted though, I think (there were) too many visitors for her.”

To help her go through the pile, Cardow said her father and aunt have been reading two cards to Rita every morning and every evening.

“It’s hard to go through 238 cards in an hour or two,” said Cardow about the decision to open a few at a time. “She’s really enjoying it."

Next year, Cardow said she doesn’t know what she’ll do for her grandmother’s next birthday, but is happy about how this one turned out.

“She’s very well-liked. I feel like it’s deserved too, she’s great.”