WATCH: This is the time of year when many of us are busy attending holiday parties. But not everyone is so fortunate. Many of our elderly find December a lonely, isolating month. That’s why becoming Santa for a Senior can make a huge difference. Veronica Cooper has more.
Nancy Hum was looking over a small Christmas tree at Heart Pharmacy IDA Shelbourne earlier this week.
The tree was decorated with paper ornaments, on which are written the name of a senior and a gift they are hoping to receive for Christmas.
Hum then spied an ornament which lists "socks and slippers" and removed it from the tree.
That means Hum just became "a Santa to a Senior."
"It's a lovely program, that we love to do," says Alistair Hicks, who owns Home Instead Senior Care Victoria, which facilitates the program."We are enhancing the lives of aging people and their families, by assisting them to stay in the place they call home."
The program includes any number of tasks, such as going for a walk, doing the laundry, doing some vacuuming or housekeeping, getting out to a doctor's appointment and other tasks that caregivers do.
"Making a meal, going to get the groceries to make the meal, putting things away in the cupboards, taking off those seals off the yogurt containers...even opening the pickle jar so it's easier to open the next time," Hicks said.
The biggest thing we provide is companionship."
The "Be a Santa to a Senior" program begins with nomination forms that are distributed to community agencies, which include the Family Caregiver Network, the Parkinson's Society, and the Arthritis Society. Residential care facilities throughout the capital region also receive nomination forms.
"So those people are helping us to nominate seniors who are very isolated or underprivileged in some way, or they may not have family visiting during the holidays," says Hicks.
The forms include a name, which number nearly 600 this year, and a gift the senior would like to receive. The details are written onto paper decoration and placed on small Christmas trees in various locations across Greater Victoria.
Heart Pharmacy IDA Shelbourne owner Donovan Walters is on board for the second year in a row.
"Last year we participated and the dispensary was full of presents," Walters said. It was not only neat to sort of provide that to the community, but it was neat within the pharmacy itself. The staff really got on board with it, so, lots of fun."
"I think it's a wonderful program," says Hum as she pays for the socks and slippers she has purchased. "It does a lot of good. There are a lot of what I call forgotten folks, who are isolated and cannot engage in the community because of various reasons. And they tend to be forgotten, especially at this time of year."
Hicks points out that it's a wonderful opportunity to help the less fortunate in our region.
"The community at large has a chance to give with the faith that this gift is going to lift somebody's spirits at Christmastime," Hicks said.
Learn more about the Be a Santa to a Senior program here.