In the 2020 Christmas Cheer program we connected over 5000 isolated or lonely seniors with Secret Santas and in 2021, with Covid precautions still in place, we are set to do so again.
We have strong relationships with seniors’ groups, housing facilities, outreach programs and health care providers. These partner agencies eagerly participate in the program, providing anonymous personal profiles of isolated seniors. The profiles include the senior’s first name, age, gender, hobbies, needs and preferences. Once we receive the profiles, we match the senior with a volunteer Secret Santa from the community.
Each Secret Santa shops for a personalized gift for “their” senior, using the profile provided by our partner agencies. This can include anything from toiletry items and slippers to specialized clothing and grocery store gift cards. As some seniors live independently and are able to have pets, the Secret Santa will often include something for the pet as well. For more mobile seniors, tickets to sporting activities or a small gift card to Tim Horton’s are also very well received. This type of gift provides the opportunity for the senior to get out and participate in the larger community.
For many of our seniors these gifts are important items they would not normally receive. Things like new clothing, undergarments and toiletry items are often difficult for seniors with mobility issues or cognitive difficulties to come by on their own. It is not always a case of them not being able to financially afford these items (although this can be true as well) it is often simply a logistical issue – they have no one who can go to the store and purchase these items for them.
For many, being a Secret Santa is a family activity. Many will call and say they are doing this in honour of a grandparent they have lost; others wonder if perhaps they too may need this service in the future. It seems that most everyone is touched by the thought of isolated seniors and are motivated to do whatever possible to let them know they are not forgotten.
We are always grateful for any of the following items, which we will use to make up last minute gifts.
Santa’s Wish List
- All types of toiletry items for men and women
- Gift cards to London Drugs
- Treats: small boxes of chocolates, candy, cookies, etc.
- Diabetic treats
- Large print puzzle books
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Anything with Calgary Flames/Stampeders/Roughnecks/Blue Jays on it
- Ball caps with sports team’s logo
- Toiletry gift sets
- Herbal Tea/ Individual instant coffee serving gift sets
- Sport magazines
- Notebooks/ journals
- Small Christmas ornaments
- Transit tickets
- Handmade items are also appreciated for those who are crafty or knit
- Tim Horton’s or Starbucks gift cards
- Chapters gift cards, fast food gift cards, grocery store gift cards
- Various sizes of mens and ladies underwear.
- Fuzzy Blankets
- Bathrobes – all sizes
- Music Cds
- DVDs – Comedy and Western seem to be popular choices
- Small and easy to operate cd players.
- Gift cards for Walmart or The Bay – these are handy to have in case we need to purchase clothing
- Sweaters of all sizes for men or ladies, cardigan or pull on
- T-shirts of all sizes for men and women – short or long sleeve
- Button up casual blouses for ladies or button up casual shirts for men
- Pj pants and 2-piece pj sets – mens and ladies
- Nighties for ladies – variety of lengths