Edmonton-based Dutch Delicious Bakery surprised senior residents in St. Albert with a taste of traditional European foods right at home.
Bakery owner Siebe Koopman filled a van with 100 boxes of goodies from his bakery before heading to the River Ridge Revera long-term care home on Wednesday.
Each box, one for every resident, contained an assortment of treats, including speculaas, a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, raisin bread, chocolate and a carved wooden rose from Holland.
"Business-wise, it does not make sense to only give (and not make a profit). But that is why I went into business: the love of people and the love of food. That's what brings us together," Koopman said.
Growing up in a family of seven in the Netherlands, Koopman said his parents planted in him a love of people and delicious food early on.
After he immigrated to Canada in 2004, those same values led him to open Dutch Delicious Bakery, a fine Dutch bakery and European delicatessen in northwest Edmonton.
Challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed business down for the small bakery, Koopman said, but they decided to use what free time they have now to give "a box of smiles" to those who are the most vulnerable to the virus.
"(River Ridge Revera) had come to our bakery with a group of seniors for coffee about a year ago, so we thought now it was our time to visit them," Koopman said.
Bakers took the time to make fresh sweet buns for all of the boxes, which is no small feat for the small bakery. Other groceries were ordered in from the Netherlands last week.
Everything was packaged and hand-delivered to the front of the long-term care home, each box wrapped with an orange bow. Staff at the long-term care centre then delivered boxes to each resident that afternoon.
Nicole Collyer, director of recreation at Revera River Ridge, said Koopman is her next-door neighbour. He offered the surprise delivery as a way to brighten up the days of senior residents quarantined inside.
"River Ridge has been blessed today," Collyer said. "This is going to be like Christmas in May (for residents)."
Nobert Van Wyk is a senior resident at Revera River Ridge and a former city manager for St. Albert. He was born in Holland, and recognized the goodies inside immediately.
"Last time I had them was when I still lived in Holland," Van Wyk said. "This is going to be a real treat."
After setting down the last box on the table, Koopman said he just hopes the bakery's act of kindness will encourage others in the community to do the same.
"There are a lot of ways to be contagious in a healthy way. Contagious with love, contagious with giving. Let's spread that."