Secret Santas help spread Christmas cheer to seniors

Be a Santa to a Senior program expected to reach out to more than 200 seniors

Franchise owner Alistair Hicks

The trickiest part of being an anonymous elf isn’t getting the gift, it’s delivering it.

Such are the words of Peggy Hancyk, chief executive elf for the Saanich-based Be a Santa to a Senior program.

“You get people who open the door and ask you in for tea, they want to know how you are and ask about your day,” she says.

Hancyk is also the community relations agent for the region’s Home Instead service, where organizational details of the annual gift giving program lands on her. The team based at the Home Instead office has been running the local Be a Santa to a Senior for nine years.

“We are expecting to help between 200 and 300 seniors, it keeps growing,” Hancyk said. “There’s lots of lonely people out there, we’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg.”

Eligible recipients are nominated by the caretakers, care home employees and concerned friends and neighbours. Members of the public chip in to purchase the gifts, and the Be a Santa volunteers then collect, wrap and distribute gifts.

The Be a Santa to a Senior program relies on the support of local businesses to erect Christmas trees and invites the public to purchase the gifts by placing tags on Christmas trees. The trees are adorned with tags listing the gift preference of an anonymous senior who is lonely or isolated. It’s a successful model used elsewhere, including the hugely popular CFAX Santas Anonymous.

“The tags on our tree at Walmart Uptown were taken care of almost immediately, and you know, the staff at these stores are often the first to grab a tag and buy something,” Hancyk said.

Larger stores such as Walmart (Uptown and Langford), Save-On-Foods and London Drugs have trees, as well as Forbes Pharmacy Goldstream, Sooke Evergreen Physiotherapy and Progressive Chiropractic (Saanich).

Some of the gift preferences the program is unable to supply directly but does its best.

Alistair Hicks, owner of the Home Instead chapter, says delivery is fun too.

“We have a few of us who do it and we only have an address, we’re not the gift buyer, just the deliverer,” said Hicks.

Some presents are slipped under or through the door, he added.

“Some are taken quietly and some by surprise. And of course, others want you to come in for a chat.”

For the most part, it’s food and pharmacy that are in demand, Hancyk explained.

“One person wanted a heater, and no, we can’t supply a heater, but we got them a gift certificate to get one. Another lady loves getting Christmas cards, so that’s exactly what is provided.”

Others seek companionship or a service that is available, and Be a Santa finds a way to find that service, too.

 

For more information visit beasantatoasenior.com.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria police seek witnesses after assault reported by man in wheelchair

Cops hope to speak with witnesses near Yates and Douglas on Jan. 13 between 1:45 and 3:15 p.m.

Olympic Gold medalist rower disppointed Saanich won’t host national training centre

Adam Kreek said also he respects decision by Rowing Canada Aviron

Victoria dancer shares concussion experience in a neuro-diverse performance

Stacey Horton’s Concussion explores living with and recovering from brain injury

Victoria teen with diabetes told ‘no food’ on B.C. Transit bus

B. C. Transit apologizes, saying it will look into food and drink policy

Saanich strikes standing committee to help create citizens’ assembly

Membership includes vocal amalgamation critic Coun. Judy Brownoff

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Most Read