For most, Christmas is the time of year that is often spent with loved ones, all while surrounded by the joyful spirit of giving. As the warm weather leaves, the warmth of being with family and friends fills the space.
When most are rushing to think of gift ideas and preparing for family gatherings, there are some who often feel forgotten and isolated. In a study done by the Canadian government, approximately 30% of Canadian seniors are at risk of becoming socially isolated (SOURCE). This number is only made worse by the holiday season.
Over the course of the holidays in 2018, Alana Edwards, a West Island mom of 3, noticed a “giving tree” in Toronto’s Fairview mall that was receiving gift donations for senior residents in the area.
Alana, having a background in special care counselling focusing on geriatrics, soon contacted a family member who worked at a seniors residence asking if they were willing to participate in something similar. This is where Santa to a Senior was born.
Within a week, the Not-for-profit was created. It was such a success that the operation went from supporting one residence to four residences within the same year, with a total of roughly 500 seniors.
Santa to a Senior works by setting up donation Christmas trees around the community. Each tree is adorned with small tags that include the special requests of local seniors.
People then bring these gifts - unwrapped - back to the trees where volunteers will pick them up to be wrapped and delivered to the appropriate person.
This year, Santa to a Senior grew to cover 25 residences, host 9 tree locations, and serve 2000 seniors.
The future is bright. I’m hoping to turn this into a year round initiative. Hopefully a non-profit. That process will be in the works in January if all goes well.
- Alana Edwards
Alana and her elves hope that members of the community take the time to go to any of their 9 donation tree locations this holiday season. The trees can be found in and around the community as of November 12th 2021.