The Gift of Caring for Christmas
Christmas is a time for friends, family, and celebration. A time to remember how blessed and loved we are, and to remind those we love how much they mean to us.
Unless you’re an isolated senior and you’ve outlived your dear friends and you live far from your family, if you have one. Imagine waking up alone on Christmas morning with no loved ones and no gifts.
“The holidays can be a troubling time for seniors. They feel the absence or the distance of loved ones,” said Alistair Hicks, Owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Victoria. That’s why he and his team led by “Chief Elf” Peggy Hancyk, have committed themselves to facilitating Be a Santa To a Senior®, a community program that provides gifts and companionship to isolated seniors.
Imagine waking up on Christmas morning with no one around, just another day. Now imagine being given an unexpected gift and how it would feel to know someone had thought of something personal just for you – a reminder that you are still a valued member of the community.
“We see even those with advanced dementia express wonder and delight,” says Hancyk. “Their pleasure and happiness shine through at Christmas. It’s so heartwarming for staff who sometimes get mired in the sadness and loneliness of their patients.”
Gifts gathered from the tremendously generous people of Greater Victoria, people who have gone out of their way to pick up gifts listed on Be a Santa to a Senior Trees, are collected and wrapped by Home Instead staff and volunteers who then make sure they are delivered to the senior as “a gift from Santa.”
“I wish each person who has bought a gift for a senior or disabled person could be with them when they receive the Christmas gift,” wrote one social worker. “Some people show their surprise and happiness at getting the gift, others are quiet and thoughtful. A gift – the act of giving – can renew their faith in human nature by letting them know people out in the wide world still care for them without even knowing them.”
“Be a Santa to a Senior provides a ray of hope for many seniors, and it means so much to know people care and value them as members of our community,” says Hicks.
Nancy Hum felt blessed to deliver a gift from Santa. In a letter written to Home Instead’s staff, she described how it felt for her and the gift recipient:
“In the box were a pair of slippers, deluxe model, soft fleecy lining, with a good grip on the soles, size large. God bless the persons who bought and donated the slippers, the ones who wrapped and delivered them. I was just the messenger.
B was wearing an old pair of thin sandals with no grip, very slippery, an accident waiting to happen. He took the slippers reverently out of the box, put them on and walked around the room. They fit.
Tears in his eyes. Chin wobbling. Voice trembling. He looks up at me in wonder, and said, “I can’t remember the last time anyone ever thought of me or gave me a present at Christmas. Thank you.” I had tears in my eyes and a wobbly chin too,” wrote Hum.
Be a Santa to a Senior was possible through the generous support of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers, and members of the community. Thank you for your big hearts and for making Christmas special again for lonely seniors!
By Mathieu Powell, on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care in Victoria.
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