Joan van der Linde started her day just like any other.

There was nothing to suggest the fourth day of spring would be any different. That was until the Morris, Man., resident received an epiphany that morning.

“I sensed a whisper in my heart, bake bread for people,” explained van der Linde. “The rest of that Sunday I felt like I had a download from God about this project. How I was going to do it, the name, which is the Bread Basket. I was going to attach it to the lamp post at the end of my driveway. No charge, it would always be free. By that Sunday evening, I was beyond excited.”

Van der Linde set up her first loaf with a friend picking it up the next day, posted it on social media and the story unfolded beyond what she could have ever imagined.

“I often pray as to who should get a loaf, and it’s been amazing to see how that person needed a pick-me-up exactly at that time."

In spring and summer, she had several families on a weekly loop because the kids were so excited about picking up this bread.

A man picks up a package from a street postTroy Hoffman was the first recipient of a Bread Basket loaf.

“One boy came home to tell his mom he was sure this bread was baked in heaven,” van der Linde said. “It kicked into a higher gear sometime in August when I heard there was a hungry family in town, and I thought no one should go hungry in our town."

Van der Linde has two bread machines on the go in her home. She usually does four loaves a day, two just before lunch and two just before supper. She has baked over two dozen in one day when she recently delivered loaves to the staff at the Morris Tim Hortons.

“I often pray as to who should get a loaf, and it’s been amazing to see how that person needed a pick-me-up exactly at that time. It’s been so awesome. It’s kind of addictive, because the smile on the person's face and the joy in their heart, and it’s really such a simple thing that brings this joy. That’s what it does for me. It stirs the interest, and the energy, to do this some more for people.”

A simple note is attached to each bag that has a sentence from the Lord's Prayer on it, and the number of the loaf of bread is written on each tag. To date she has baked around 350 loaves.

“My goal is to keep on baking,” said van der Linde. “People ask if they can pay for a loaf. I’m not selling the bread, but if people want to contribute, I do accept and tell them it goes straight into the Bread Basket fund for ingredients. Some people have dropped off ingredients, or given me cash towards supporting the project. My goal is to get to 1,000 loaves before March 23rd, 2021 – exactly a year to the day that this started.”

A man holds his loaf of bread

Since Joan's story was first shared on the CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show last week, she received a few donations to her cause, one as far away as the United Kingdom, giving her enough money to buy a new bread maker. In that interview, van der Linde noted one of existing bread makers was showing signs it might nowt make it to March of next year, but now she is set to continue toward her goal.

She says bread making is her passion. It started with cinnamon buns many years ago as a fundraiser for her kids when they did their mission trips. The bread making, even though it’s a new thing, is definitely her passion.

It’s also Joan van der Linde’s act of kindness.

“When you get a unkind word spoken to you, how does that affect you for the day?” asked van der Linde. “It’s like a cloud of heaviness that sits on your shoulder. So when we look at exactly the opposite of that, whether it’s a phone call or e-mail, text, a cup of coffee at the Tim Hortons drive thru or whatever the act of kindness is, there is an immediate joy that comes with that.”

“We are in, as we overuse the word, unprecedented times. We really, really are. I just feel like if we all do our part, if we even say, ‘You know let’s choose two people today that we are going to bring cheer into their lives. That multiplies, because then that person has the energy to bring into other people's lives. Then it kind of steamrolls into a bigger thing. It’s going to be kindness towards each other that will get us though this time.”