Secret Santa program targets needy Saskatoon seniors

A secret Santa program hopes to brighten the holidays for 200 seniors at long-term care facilities in Saskatoon. City residents are encouraged to take a card with a needy senior's request, and donate an unwrapped gift by December 13.

Organizers say gift recipients often suffer from dementia, isolation

For some senior citizens, the holidays can be a lonely time of year.

That's why one business in Saskatoon is hoping city residents will make Christmas a little brighter for 200 senior citizens.

They're identified as isolated seniors, often low-income or just alone- Karen Charyna, organizer, Be a Santa to a Senior

Karen Charyna and her husband own Home Instead Senior Care. This marks the fourth year their business has collected gifts for seniors who live in long-term care.

"They often wouldn't receive a gift any other way," said Charyna. "They're identified as isolated seniors, often low-income or just alone at this time in their life." 

Charyna collected names of seniors at 11 long term care facilites in Saskatoon. She said in past years, some of the seniors who received gifts did not have any living relatives, and never saw visitors. 

She estimated at least 75 per cent of this year's gift recipients suffer from dementia.

Their requests are written on paper ornaments, which now hang on Christmas trees at Market Mall's BMO branch and outside Home Instead Senior Care. Staff at the Lakewood RBC have also put up a request tree, as have those at The Medicine Shoppe on Broadway Avenue.

Charyna encourages citizens to pick up a paper request, shop for that senior, then drop off unwrapped gifts before December 13.

She and other volunteers will gift-wrap them and deliver them to each senior citizen the week before Christmas.

"We're all interested in promoting the quality of life of seniors," said Charyna. "We see that there are so, so many that really don't get a visit. And so we wanted to be part of this."

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