Uber driver Forest Atkinson has transformed her black minivan into a winter wonderland for her passengers.
The 31-year-old, who only moved to Toronto three months ago, has decked out her wheelchair-accessible van with lights in the shape of snowmen, candy canes and a three-foot Christmas tree.
It’s been a delight for passengers, who have left her hundreds of five-star reviews.
“I have stockings hung and bows everywhere. And getting to the three-foot tree, I was a little bit inspired because I don’t have a seat beside me. So I thought it would be fun for passengers to have something to look at,” she said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.
Staff at a Rona hardware store helped drill the tree into a thick piece of wood so it stays in place.
“They drilled little Christmas boxes, and some stuffed animals underneath it. It’s a full Christmas scene in the front,” she said.
Being able to brighten her passengers’ day while Toronto is in the middle of a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the goal of all the decorations, she said.
“I have loved the reactions. I know that this Christmas is different, but I’m always going to remember these are my highlights, making people smile,” she said. “When they step into this van they’re all taking pictures, they have something to tell their family and friends that’s a little bit different for the norm.”
Atkinson says she’s only been driving the van for about a month and that as a former personal support worker, she’s very familiar with operating wheelchair-accessible vans. She moved from Ottawa to Toronto to be with her boyfriend, who works for Spinal Cord Ontario and also uses a wheelchair.
She said it’s important for services like Uber to be accessible as well, particularly during the winter months.
Adding an unexpected, positive surprise to her passengers’ day has been the highlight of her holiday season so far, she said.
“It’s important to still feel like Christmas is here, even if you’re just spending it with one loved one instead of the whole family. It’s still fun to put out decorations and feel that joy around this time of year,” she said.
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