A Toronto officer brought along two co-op students to deliver cards with birthday wishes to World War II veteran Fred Arsenault recently.
When Arsenault was with the military during the Second World War Italian Campaign, he read handwritten letters from his mother that provided him a sense of hope.
Last month, his son took a picture of his father holding a sign saying, “Hello. My name is Fred Arsenault. I am a WW2 veteran about to turn 100 years old on March 6, 2020 and would like to receive 100 birthday cards. Please mail: 9 Kenmore Ave., Toronto, ON, M1K 1B3, Canada. Thank you.”
Uploaded during the Super Bowl, the photo went viral.
The Chief’s Office joined in the collection of cards, which were delivered by Grade 11 students Brett McDonald and Lanny Nolivos accompanied Sgt. John LoBianco, of Emergency Management & Public Order.
LoBianco, who has served as a military reservist and on a policing mission to Afghanistan, and the students took a lot from the experience.
“This is the first time I got to meet someone who went to war and fought for his country and it was an amazing experience,” said McDonald, who attends Francis Liebermann Catholic High School. “It was such fun to talk to him and I came away learning so much. I gained a lot of knowledge.”
The visit lasted about 45 minutes.
“We talked about his time in the military and there was a photo of Fred on a motorcycle when he was a dispatcher that he shared some stories about, including being shot at,” said LoBianco. “When the students decided to come with me, I turned the visit into a learning experience, which they appreciated.”