Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation in New Milford has announced the five winners of its “Win a Bunny for Your Grandchild” contest.

The contest was promoted on social media via Facebook and community groups, as well as throughout the community in local papers, during the COVID-19 shelter in place.

The winners were asked to share a special memory or story about their grandchild.

The winners are Mary Apodaca, Dale and Bob Hanna, Stephanie McGuire, Stanley Everest and Marjorie Wentworth.

“We received nearly 50 emails with a wide spectrum of different stories about grandchildren of all ages,” said David Segal, CVHR administrator. “Many stories were themed around the virus and were full of hope and love.”

“This was a way to put a positive spin on Easter since many families will not be able to have their traditional celebrations,” said Melissa Marici, community outreach director.

Jo-Ann Durdock, a member of the therapuetic recreation staff, worked with resident Frances Szweda to select the five winners through a raffle system.

“Grandparents are the family historians, the memory keepers,” said Kathleen Horvath, recreation director. “Blest is the grandparent who can see a grandchild grow to be an adult.”

Szweda was chosen to help with the contest because “she is one of our most active and helpful residents,” Horvath said.

“Most recently, she organized our library better than most professional librarians would,” she said. “She is a vital part of our community and has helped us pull throughout.”

Here’s a sample of one of the beautiful submissions we received:

“My little grandson was born on Sept. 19, 2019. He came into the world looking just like my son his Dad but with his Mother’s dimples. Cute as can be. My hopes and dreams for this little man is to be the best he can be and for him to grow into a young successful young man like his father. Unfortunately, with what’s going on with the virus I’m unable to give him real hugs and kisses. I pray that all the children parents and grandparents be safe during this crisis and we soon can give our love and kisses to all our children and grandchildren real soon. Happy Easter everyone. May God watch over each and every one of us especially my little grandson, Michael Paul.

“The staff at Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation echoes these sentiments for our residents, many of whom will be missing their grandchildren as well, but whom understand the importance of putting safety first,” Segal said.

Admissions Director Georgia Epting emphasized how Candlewood is trying to keep loved ones safe and healthy at this time.

“We thank everyone for being so understanding,” Epting said. “We are keeping families connected by FaceTime and Skype.”

“Please call to set up a time for you and other family members to see and talk to one another,” she suggested. “It’s the little things that keep us going. We are here for you now more than ever and will continue to give 100 percent every day.”