Be The Change Series: Santa For Seniors

Often during this season, we tend to focus our donation efforts on children and families in need. It’s hard to think of children going without at Christmas, yet sadly, there is just as strong a need for assistance for our seniors.

Many seniors are living at or below the poverty line – with few options for improvement due to their limited pensions and fixed incomes. This problem will only become greater in the coming years as the population ages and the economy fluctuates.  With many seniors struggling to maintain their hydro this winter or pay their bills, they will be in need of basic items many of us take for granted. If they do not have family to support them, who else can they turn to?

Luckily there’s still Santa.

Be a Santa to a Senior is a program being run through Home Instead Senior Care in Niagara Falls that helps send gifts to lonely and financially challenged seniors that receive assistance through the Niagara Region Community Services Dept.  They have been provided with names and wish lists from seniors in our communities.

By visiting one of the 4 donation sites in Niagara, one can select the name of a senior in need from a specially designated tree. The tags are gender specific, and will provide a short list of items requested. These can range from $25-$40 and include basic items like toiletries, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, and non-perishable food items. Completed donations can be returned unwrapped to the donation site, where they will be wrapped and delivered by volunteers.

Pleasantview Funeral Home  in Fonthill is one the locations participating and the only one in the Pelham area. “It is really heart-breaking to read through (the wish lists.)” says Funeral Director Andrea Stubbings.  She is pleased to announce that to date, their location alone has provided donations to 100 seniors this season.  (In total, the program will be providing gifts to over 350 seniors in Niagara.) The last of the ornaments are on their tree in the Main Office lobby off of Merrittville Rd, and the response from the community so far has been wonderful.

This is the third year for this program and it has already grown exponentially due to the high demand.   While they are pleased with the support from the community to date, there is still more that can be done.  Even though the program is winding up for this year, they would still welcome donations of warm items like blankets, sweaters, slippers, hats, scarves and mittens. In addition to gifts, donations of wrapping paper and gift bags would also be greatly appreciated.

All donations must be received by December 12th, as that is the final gift collection day.  Wrapping will commence Dec 16th and 17th.

Other Ways to Show Kindness

In addition to those being helped by this program, there are still many seniors in retirement homes that would appreciate an act of kindness this Christmas.  Many do not receive visitors and this can be a sad and lonely time for them.  I encourage you to keep this in mind this season if you are visiting a relative in a home, or simply want to do something kind for a stranger.  Consider contacting your local senior’s home to see how you can be of service.  Get the family together to make some Christmas cards that could be distributed to lonely residents, or plan a day to visit.  Either way, the gift of your time and effort will be appreciated, and giving someone a reason to smile this holiday season is the greatest gift of all.

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