The giving season has begun in Greater Victoria as the volunteers behind the Saanich-based Be a Santa to a Senior program have slipped into elf mode.
This year is the ninth running of the program, which delivers secret-Santa gifts and companionship for lonely and isolated seniors during the holidays.
Be A Santa is organized by ‘chief executive elf’ Peggy Hancyk, who is loaned to the program from her regular role handling community relations for Victoria Home Instead Senior Care at McKenzie and Shelbourne.
“We’re up to 450 [seniors] this year who’ve put in for a present, we really do depend on a regular team of helpers to make it happen,” Hancyk said.
Classes from nearby Cedar Hill middle and St. Patrick’s elementary schools will decorate gift bags. Then, on a mid-December day, Peggy will assemble a one-day elf-factory at the Shannon Oaks retirement home in Oak Bay, at which all the presents will be wrapped.
The public can participate by picking up an ‘ornament,’ or card, from a Be a Santa to a Senior tree, which are now up at 11 stores around town. On each tree are a few dozen ornaments with a first name, which is often an alias, and a desired product such as some new socks and slippers, or perhaps a small appliance.
In some instances, such as at Walmart, the employees will remove most, if not all, of the cards and purchase the gift before the public can even see them, Hancyk said.
Deliveries are fun, and often involve a cup of tea and conversation, which is just as important, said Alistair Hicks, owner of Victoria Home Instead.
“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.
The trees for Be a Santa to a Senior can be found at both Walmarts (Uptown and Langford), Forbes Pharmacies at 755 Goldstream Ave. and 1775 Fort St., Progressive Chiropractic at 1595 McKenzie Ave., Save-On-Foods at Tillicum shopping centre, the Sooke Evergreen Physiotherapy, the Heart Pharmacy at 3643 Shelbourne St., MLA Lana Popham’s office at 4085 Quadra St., and the London Drugs at 911 Yates St. and Saanich Centre (Quadra and McKenzie).
For more information visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com.