Christmas cheer for isolated seniors

The Home Instead Senior Care network has launched its annual Be a Santa to a Senior campaign.

The Home Instead Senior Care network has launched its annual Be a Santa to a Senior campaign.

This year the organization, an international provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for seniors, hopes to collect and distribute gifts to more seniors than ever before.

The popular campaign that delivered more than 450 gifts to seniors in the Kelowna area last year is being planned at a time when seniors’ gift requests are expected to rise as they struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd has proclaimed Dec. 7 as Be a Santa to a Senior Day in the city. To recognize Be a Santa to a Senior Day, Missionwood Retirement Resort will be hosting its third annual Turkey Dinner. On Dec.7, from 12:30  to 2 p.m. , the public can stop by the facility at 1075 Barnes Ave. and have a complete turkey dinner with all the fixings.

Donations collected will be used to purchase gifts for seniors in the community.

The Home Instead Senior Care network, which has 30 locations across Canada, makes Be a Santa to a Senior a reality by partnering with local retailers, non-profit agencies and volunteers from the community.

This year organizations such as Missionwood Retirement Community, London Drugs, Senior’s Outreach, Meals on Wheels and many more are taking part in the program.

“Many older adults continue to struggle to keep up as the cost of living continues to rise,” said Don Henke, of Home Instead Senior Care in Kelowna. “Particularly those who live alone with no family nearby to help provide resources.”

According to the 2006 census, nearly 1.8 million Canadian seniors aged 75 and up were living alone.

Be a Santa to a Senior isn’t only about gifts. The program is designed to give back to deserving seniors, as well as help stimulate human contact and social interaction for older adults who are unlikely to have guests during the holidays.

Here is how the program works: Before the holiday season, the participating non-profit organizations in local communities will identify isolated and deserving seniors and provide those names to the Home Instead Senior Care office at 202 St. Paul St.

Christmas trees will go up at London Drugs in Kelowna and West Kelowna that feature Be a Santa to a Senior paper ornaments with the first names only of the seniors, and their gift requests.

Holiday shoppers can pick up an ornament at a participating location, buy the items on the list and return them unwrapped to the store, along with the ornament attached.

The program runs until Dec. 12. Here’s how to get involved:

1. Visit the website Enter your postal code to find the location of a participating store.

2. Remove an ornament, which has a gift idea printed on the back, from the Christmas tree in the store.

3. Purchase a gift.

4. Give both the unwrapped gift and ornament back to a representative at the participating location.

Be a Santa to a Senior has a knack for bringing out the best in people. In one community, a lawyer was so taken by the idea of giving back to seniors at holiday time that she put up a Christmas tree in her own office with gift request ornaments. The other lawyers in the firm embraced the program, and the ornaments had to be replenished several times. The lawyer also participated in the local wrapping party and delivered many of the gifts.

“Be a Santa to a Senior is a way to show our gratitude to an important segment of our community who have contributed so much throughout the years,” said Henke.

Businesses are encouraged to contact Home Instead Senior Care about adopting groups of seniors. For more information see


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