October 29th, 2020

Programs help bring joy to isolated seniors


By Bobinec, Greg on December 19, 2019.

Volunteers help wrap over 2,000 gifts donated by the community for isolated seniors this Christmas, for the annual Stocking Stuffers for Seniors, Wednesday. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

AgeCare Columbia senior residents and staff spent Wednesday afternoon sorting and wrapping all of the gifts donated by the community for the Christmas to Remember and Stocking Stuffers for Seniors campaigns, which will later be delivered to isolated seniors in the city.

For the last five years, AgeCare Columbia and London Drugs in Lethbridge have asked the community to think about isolated seniors and donate gifts for them to have under the Christmas tree. This year, the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors campaign was able to accumulate over 2,000 gifts for seniors who have no family or are unable to get to their family over the holidays.

“We have been doing this for five years and it is just a wonderful program and brings such great meaning to Christmas to people who wouldn’t normally have it,” says Deborah Robertson, AgeCare Columbia worker. “All of the gifts are donated and as of last night, we have had 2,220 gifts donated and I think it is enough. The people in Lethbridge and surrounding areas are so generous, it has just been overwhelming and just wonderful.”

Nearly 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely, which can significantly compromise their mental and physical health, according to Statistics Canada. Isolated or lonely seniors can be hard to identify, even by senior care facility workers, and since the launch of the campaign, AgeCare workers have been able to understand more about their clients.

“We have about 720 seniors we are gifting to this year, and as of this morning, we still have names coming in,” says Robertson. “Even in our own facility, you don’t realize that people don’t have families or they live so far away that they miss out on Christmas, and we have a gentleman who hasn’t had a gift since he was a child and so we don’t realize there are so many out there.”

About 50 volunteers have worked to bring Christmas spirit into seniors’ lives. By the end of the week, all registered seniors will have received their gifts to open on Christmas morning.

“We have wrappers who are volunteering their time, we have some that have been doing it for five years, and some that are just new groups,” says Robertson. “We had to downsize a bit this year for space for our volunteers, but we have about 50 people that have sent in their name to help volunteer. Some of the gifts will be delivered today to the different facilities and then we have some that will be delivered Thursday and Friday.”

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