Gift donations bringing joy to older adults over the holidays


Friendly Manitoba is living up to its name this holiday season with some residents spreading holiday cheer to Manitobans living in care homes.

For the last 14 years, Home Instead Winnipeg has been organizing the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program, an initiative that delivers gifts to isolated older adults living in the community.

“Over the years we’ve delivered over 35,000 gifts and we really hope to reach our goal of 40,000 gifts this year,” said Julie Donaldson, owner of Home Instead Winnipeg.

She said Home Instead works with A & O Support Services to provide the program — A & O delivers gifts to older adults who live independently and Home Instead delivers to older adults living in care homes.

Donaldson said there is a strong need for gifts and donations this year compared to past years, especially as the fourth wave of COVID-19 is forcing some care homes to restrict visits from family members.

“I know this is the first year (since the pandemic) we can celebrate with our friends and family, and we still ask you to think about those older adults that are in personal care homes and are very likely not to have a visit this year,” she said.

Donaldson said popular gifts are things like coloring books, Sudoku puzzles, socks, blankets and toiletry items, as well as things of comfort like stuffed animals.

“We love to get the handmade Christmas cards from families and children to go along with them, because those messages that are delivered to those older adults, it just really brings them joy on Christmas day,” Donaldson said.

Anyone can donate a gift or cash by heading to the A & O website.

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