A program in Guelph is helping seniors in need this Christmas.
Chartwell Royal on Gordon Street will have a Christmas tree put up by Tuesday with ornaments on it with names of gifts. Seniors and other members of the community can take an ornament, buy a gift and place it under the tree, wrapped, in time for the gifts to be distributed.
People have until Dec. 9 to drop off a gift.
The Be a Santa to a Senior program has been around for over 20 years.
“So we're thinking of dropping them off to the hospitals, just in case, the hospitals have a situation where they have to not accept outside visitors,” said Dan Gallagher, director of community relations at Home Instead Guelph.
Home Instead Guelph is an in-home care service for seniors, they help with meal prep, laundry, transportation and companionship.
“So we've always found that when we do it in retirement residents, that the people who live in the retirement residence really want to help out less fortunate people. Typically, people who live in retirement residences, they've had a really, really good life,” said Gallagher.
It’s a way for seniors to give back during the holidays, when usually Christmas is about children receiving gifts, he said.
“It's a really tough time for a lot of seniors and a lot of their friends have passed on and family have passed on. And there are some seniors out there who are less fortunate than the rest of us.” said Gallagher.
Some gifts can include toiletries, towels, blankets and gift cards to grocery stores.
The grocery store gift cards can be helpful to seniors who go home from the hospital because they are able to fill up their refrigerator, said Gallagher.
“My car turns into Santa’s sleigh and then to the hospital and the hospital that the social workers, hospital health care professionals will determine who the gifts will go to because, you know, during the holidays, we don't know who's going to be in there,” he said.
Since the program started they have given 2.2 million gifts worldwide and over 750,000 seniors in North America have been helped.
“It really lifts up their hearts, it's, you know, it's great to see that just even one gift really brings a tear to their face,” said Gallagher. “It just really helps give them a warm feeling that they're giving back to their fellow seniors.”