When GuelphToday first spoke with Adopt-A-Senior organizers Kyla Rowntree, Kayla McQueen and Sabrina Thompson this time last year they were amazed at the support and success of their first gift-giving campaign.
“We had an outpouring of support from the community and a lot of people wanting to adopt seniors,” Rowntree said as she and the others joined dozens of volunteers during a three-day wrapping marathon at the Village of Riverside Glen this week. “I thought this first year we would be able to do 20, maybe 25 seniors.”
They ended up exceeding that expectation by a factor of 10.
“It has just been amazing,” said Rowntree.
To say the experience strengthened their friendship would be an understatement considering they didn’t even know each other before they started the campaign last year.
They met after Thompson and Rowntree responded to a Facebook post by McQueen who was asking about gift-giving campaigns for seniors in Guelph.
They found programs that bought gifts for children but nothing was availble for seniors, so they decided to launch a campaign of their own and it took off.
“We approached the retirement residences, nursing homes, groups for seniors and asked if they had any seniors in their groups or residences that could use something a little extra during the holiday season if they don’t have family or aren’t feeling well or something,” said McQueen.
They collected a list of donors and representatives from local seniors' organizations helped identify the seniors in need.
“Our reps fill out wish lists for the seniors and we match the senior up with a donor and then those donors go out and purchase the gifts,” she said. “They deliver them to us. We wrap them and deliver them to the residences or their homes.”
Support for the campaign has continued to grow.
“Last year we did about 250 seniors and this year we will hit about 350,” said McQueen.
This year they set up at the Elliott Community on Metcalfe Street.
“Kyla reached out to me last year looking for community partners and I helped them connect with other organizations within the community,” said Rebecca McKinlay, fundraising coordinator at the Elliott Community. “We did it with them last year, but this is the first year we hosted. It is absolutely amazing what these three girls have done for our community and our residents as well as individuals and seniors living within the Guelph community. It is absolutely extraordinary.”
As many as 75 volunteers came out to help over the past two days to wrap and deliver gifts.
"We had lots of kids here last night," said Rowntree during the first of two wrapping sessions. "We have a soccer team coming today."
They are still accepting volunteers and donations at Adopt-a-Senior if you want to help out.
“We want to have everything wrapped up by the end of this week,” said Rowntree.