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Christmas Cheer Campaign provides gifts to seniors

Seniors Secret Service’s Christmas Cheer Campaign will once again ensure isolated local seniors have a gift to unwrap this holiday season. “Many seniors are very socially isolated,” said Executive Director Andrea Brumwell.
Spreading Cheer
Santa Claus distributes gifts to seniors as part of the Christmas Cheer Campaign.

Seniors Secret Service’s Christmas Cheer Campaign will once again ensure isolated local seniors have a gift to unwrap this holiday season. “Many seniors are very socially isolated,” said Executive Director Andrea Brumwell. “It significantly compromises their mental and physical health. Holidays are a particularly lonely time for a lot of seniors, especially if they don’t have any family.” According to Brumwell, Seniors Secret Service partners with 135 care agencies in Calgary and the surrounding region, including Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere, ranging from residents of Bethany Airdrie and Bethany Cochrane to individual seniors who live independently with assistance from Alberta Health Service’s homecare team. “Last year, we supported just over 4,850 seniors,” Brumwell said. “This year looks like we’re on track for around 5,100 or so.” Through the Christmas Cheer Campaign, she said, seniors are matched with a Secret Santa. “[Partners] send us a list of seniors in their facilities who they believe don’t have support, whether that’s [because] they don’t have family or their family’s not involved,” Brumwell said. “In turn, we take that list and provide gifts back to them for their people. They then deliver the gifts to the seniors in time for Christmas.” The Christmas Cheer Campaign begins in September and at this point, Brumwell said, all seniors on those initial lists have been matched with a Secret Santa. However, there are still many seniors in need of gifts who aren’t part of the campaign, she added. “We have folks that come into care all the way up right until Christmas,” Brumwell said. “Those people would not get adopted through the regular program, so at that point, we make gifts for them in our warehouse.” According to Brumwell, the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program – offered in partnership with London Drugs – is an excellent way to provide every senior with a gift this Christmas. The program, which began Nov. 19 and runs until Dec. 10, allows shoppers to pick a tag off trees located at all Airdrie and Calgary London Drugs locations. “The tags…will say things like slippers or socks,” Brumwell said. After the items are purchased and donated at a London Drugs location, they are transferred to Seniors Secret Service, which uses them to make gifts. Brumwell said hundreds of gifts will be assembled using the donated items. Popular items for seniors, she added, are toiletry gift sets, books and magazines, blankets, winter gear and puzzles. Ultimately, according to Brumwell, a simple gift can make a world of difference for seniors by reminding them that someone cares for them – even if it’s a stranger. “The true gift is making sure these seniors know they’re not forgotten,” she said.

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