Nancy Frank’s quiet acts of kindness

Itty bitty tokens of appreciation are her silent way of saying—I see you.

Nancy Frank feels the most comfortable in the background. The 70-year-old Dartmouth resident is a beloved volunteer in her community—notably with the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre—but good luck getting her to brag about the hard work she puts in there. "I just like to help," she says humbly, her smile audible through the phone. "I don't know any other way of saying it."

For decades, Frank's been crafting with plastic canvas, making little pins for friends and family to coincide with every holiday you can put a face or symbol on—like Halloween, Valentine's Day and of course Christmas. But it was back in the mid-nineties that she started giving them to strangers, too.

"My mom was in the hospital after a car accident, and I was just sitting there with her, waiting," says Frank. "I started making them for the nurses."

Her tradition's continued to snowball since then, resulting in her making—and sharing—over 300 candy cane shaped pins last Christmas.

"If someone helps me, I give them a pin," she says of the tiny gesture. "Or if someone's having a bad day. If I have them, I pass them out." This year, she's stitched little wreaths and as of last week has started slipping them to people she cares about and perfect strangers alike. Maybe someone in the grocery line-up, maybe a friendly face on the street or a co-worker who could use a pick-me-up.

"It's weird but, I'm really shy. I don't really say much to people, I just give them out and just go, 'Here, I made this,'" says Frank. "'If you want it, keep it. If you don't want it, you can pass it on to someone else.'"

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