Red Deer resident Doug Havell started a display on his front lawn with stuffed bears carrying messages designed to bring joy and happiness to passersby. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer man spreads joy, kindness with front yard stuffed bear display

Doug Havell has been through some hard times, and now he figures it’s his turn to be kind to others.

The Red Deer man suffered a stroke almost a year and a half ago, and then on top of that, his wife Gaetane died in December.

Havell has recovered from the stroke, and once he got better, he decided to do some good by bringing stuffed bears to the Extendicare Michener Hill senior’s home, where his 100-year-old mother lives.

Of course, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Havell couldn’t make those routine visits anymore. So, he decided to set the stuffies up in a display on his front lawn, with messages of kindness or the odd joke, just to make people smile and have a laugh during these difficult times.

He also has a free library out front with a few books.

“Kindness costs nothing. What the world needs now is love,” said Havell, who lives in Mustang Acres, on the north end of Red Deer.

“It’ll be the reason somebody smiles. It all means something. Not all heroes wear capes. Most wear scrubs.”

One day, a message read “smile or no pie,” and the next day, a pie appeared on his front porch.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Havell said setting up the display brings him all kinds of joy, too, as neighbours and friends stop by for a quick chat or to have coffee.

He said it gave him purpose after the stroke and his wife passed away. He plans to keep building his bear collection and adding messages for as long as he can.

“It gives me a purpose. I want to see somebody smile.”

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Red Deer resident Doug Havell started a display on his front lawn with stuffed bears carrying messages designed to bring joy and happiness to passersby. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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