In 2016 the Birthday Cheer program successfully delivered just under 2800 gifts to 68 participating care facilities and organizations.
We recognize how important social activities benefit people of all ages: it sparks conversation, builds rapport and encourages a sense of community. The seniors we cater to often do not have immediate family or friends around and are living alone or in homes. We are taking a stance and recognizing a need to spread unconditional support to these isolated seniors and show them they are loved, valued and appreciated.
The goal of the Birthday Cheer Program is to extend the spirit of giving year round, in an effort to brighten the lives and improve the spirits of isolated senior citizens in Calgary. This is accomplished by providing birthday gift bags that contain various toiletry and sundry items. Each gift includes a handmade birthday card addressed to the senior. The gift bags are prepared at a monthly Birthday Cheer where volunteers come together to assemble the bags and package them for delivery to the various sites. Volunteer drivers take the gifts to participating care facilities and senior organizations for delivery to the seniors on their birthday.
Seniors who participate in the Birthday Cheer program are also identified to us by our partner agencies, although they are not necessarily the same seniors who receive gifts through the Christmas Cheer program. We have several groups that participate in the Birthday Cheer program but do not participate in the Christmas program for cultural reasons. We have had to limit the number of participants in the Birthday Cheer Program due to our financial capacity.
Currently, the program provides birthday gifts to seniors at 65 care facilities and senior organizations. On average, 190 gifts are delivered each month. This number is expected to continue to grow as the need for the service increases and the program gains more visibility. The cost of a Birthday gift bag is $20, which is largely paid for by the organization.
Volunteers gave 725 hours in support of the Birthday Cheer program in 2016.