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While we all know we should carry 81 mg aspirin with us at all times, just in case we have the signs of a heart attack or stroke, quite likely few of us do. 

And even if we do, finding those tiny pills among the clutter of our pockets, wallets and purses can be stressful and difficult.

The Parish of Richmond, near Woodstock, has recognized that need and acted on it to help their friends, neighbours and families. 

That solution comes in the form of a key chain containing a small cylinder — two hollow pieces that screw together — containing four 81 mg aspirin. It’s relatively inexpensive, but potentially life-saving, and the parish has made it their mission this year.

“Andy’s sister is a doctor in Nova Scotia,” said Louise Bell of her husband. “She gave us all one with our Christmas gifts. The lights went on and I thought ‘this could be something for our Compassion Fund.’”

The Parish of Richmond’s Compassion Fund was founded around 2006 when the Rev. Chris Hayes was rector. 

“It was when Andy’s mom was ill and someone gave us a loaf of bread,” said Louise. “It was so nice, so thoughtful, and I thought we should have something for people when they need it.

“So Chris and I came up with the idea of a Compassion Fund. It’s instant. If someone has a fire, we can get money to them within 12 hours,” she said.

Donations to the fund are largely from the congregation.

“We give out between three and four thousand a year,” said Nancy Clarke, another member of the fund.

This year so far, the fund has spent between $300 and $400 on the “Help For Your Heart” aspirin holders. 

The television commercials and the card accompanying the aspirin holders say if you’re experience the signs of a heart attack or stroke, chew two of the aspirins. 

“Even if you take them and it’s not a heart attack, it’s not going to hurt you,” said Nancy, adding her own aunt was saved by chewing a couple of aspirin during such an event. 

When the fund members wanted to try this unique outreach, they didn’t know where to find the tiny cylinders. 

“We looked on Amazon,” said Louise. “But they only come in packages of nine. So we just kept on buying them. We filled them with aspirin from Costco.”

“Then we got the cards printed,” said Nancy. “When we see someone, anytime we meet a friend or neighbour, we hand one out.”

In fact, the women travel with a small Tupperware-type container full of them. They’ve given away about 150 so far, including to members of all three congregations in the parish. Now they have people calling to request them.

The Compassion Fund gives money to those in need facing travel for medical reasons, fires, floods, illness and other unexpected events. As well, when the need is great, they donate to help pay for such things as snowplowing, groceries, snowsuits and electricity bills. And they contribute to men’s and women’s shelters.

“People are so grateful,” said Nancy, adding a compassion fund is a good idea for any parish.

The fund members are pleased with the success of their latest venture, but already have a new one in mind. After visiting a second-hand store and learning bibles are in demand among newcomers to Canada, they are forming a plan to start collecting them to hand out.

As for the “Help For Your Heart” aspirin holders, “It’s something you don’t want to think about, but it’s a great idea,” said Louise. “Even if we save one person.”   

1. Nancy Clarke and Louise Bell are members of the Parish of Richmond’s Compassion Fund, which has begun giving out small hollow cylinders that fit on a key chain. Inside are chewable 81 mg aspirin, the standard first aid measure for people experiencing the signs of a stroke or heart attack.

2. Inside the key chain cylinders are chewable aspirin, to be taken if one has the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. These gifts from the Parish of Richmond have the power to save a life, says Nancy Clarke.

McKnight photos


Debbie Edmondson 27 days ago

What a great idea!

Ann Balch 27 days ago

Something so simple that can save lives! Great thinking.

Joan Tremblay 27 days ago

Great idea and well executed. The love of God in action!

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