London·Sounds of the Season

'Be a Santa to a Senior' campaign makes Christmas morning special for elderly

Homecare service Home Instead is delivering gift-wrapped goodies to seniors so that they can have something to open on Christmas Day.

Gift-giving for those who may not have a family or loved ones nearby

'Be a Santa to a Senior' ensures seniors get a spot on Santa's "Nice" list. (RTimages/Shutterstock)

Santa is making an early stop at long term care homes in London. 

On Monday, homecare service Home Instead will deliver gift-wrapped goodies to seniors so that they can have something to open on Christmas Day. The campaign, called Be a Santa to a Senior, focuses on those who may not have family or loved ones nearby, or are simply in need of some holiday cheer. 

Owner Victoria Chalmers said that receiving a gift at this time of year can do wonders to lift a senior's spirits. 

"I think what we get every year is the same type of reaction that children get, just that they were excited that they were remembered, that they have something to open," Chalmers said. 

"It means the world to them. The feedback of their faces lighting up when these gifts are delivered and the generosity of our community is always amazing. Every single year, I look at what these individuals have bought for the seniors and the care and love that people put into them, is very magical and makes the whole thing more special." 

The campaign works with community partners and non-profit organizations to identify seniors who are in need. Seniors submit their gift requests, and individuals in the community anonymously step up to sponsor the cost of the gift. 

Gifts for seniors are simple, meaningful

Gift requests can range from activity books, to a Toronto Raptors jersey or a cute cat calendar.  They can also be practical: gloves, hats and blankets are always needed to keep warm and snug. 

Every year, seniors post their wishlists on a paper Christmas ornament for the Be a Santa for a Senior event. (CBC News)

Some seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia ask for a doll or a teddy bear. 

"That can bring them a lot of comfort and just help with behavior," said Chalmers. "And so we've had people say to us in the past, why is this senior requesting a doll? But it actually is a very specific reason that that individual wanted something like that to care for, so it's just meeting them where they are with the needs that they have." 

With the gifts packed in Santa's sleigh and ready for delivery, the annual campaign has finished for another year. 

But Chalmers said there are still a few sponsors out there who missed this year's deadline and still want to give. She is encouraging anyone who knows of a senior in need to reach out to Home Instead and help get a gift their way. 

She added to not forget the seniors around us as well. 

"If you do have a neighbour or someone that you maybe don't even know that well, maybe you see them out and about, or maybe you know that they are just at home and they don't have a lot of visitors, you can do a little tiny something to make Christmas special for them, even just bringing them a treat or a little lap blanket or something like that," she said.

"It can be so simple and means so much."