How you can help make the holidays happier for lonely seniors - InfoNews

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How you can help make the holidays happier for lonely seniors

Staff at a Kamloops seniors facility are organizing a holiday gift drive, but say that time spent with the residents is even more valuable.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
November 13, 2019 - 5:30 PM

This Christmas, you can switch up your tradition and donate time or goods to people who are alone on the holidays.

Donating stocking stuffers is a great way to help brighten a seniors Christmas, but donating your time is priceless.

Anna Corbett, a care service lead at the Hamlets at Westsyde seniors facility in Kamloops has started a campaign to fill 150 stockings for the residents. She says many of them are alone over the holidays, and Corbett hopes to show them some love by bringing in gifts, self-care products, and most importantly — some company.

“I got the idea because a lot of seniors don't have family, and the nurses, care aides, and staff at the senior’s facility are their family,” Corbett says. “And the holidays are just such a time for family.”

Corbett took to Facebook to ask for donations of lotions, soaps, hair care and other products that the seniors like to have. Since asking for basic items, she has now seen the community rally their support and is now expecting much more than body care products.

“Teachers have gotten a hold of it and some of the schools are doing Christmas cards... I’m really excited,” Corbett says. “One of the schools actually wants to bring their choir in and sing and I actually cried when I saw it, I thought, ‘It would be so amazing to see that.’"

The Hamlets at Westsyde brings in Santa Claus for their Christmas celebration, but they're looking for some other helpers this year to spread holiday cheer.
The Hamlets at Westsyde brings in Santa Claus for their Christmas celebration, but they're looking for some other helpers this year to spread holiday cheer.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Hamlets at Westsyde

Hamlets at Westsyde recreation manager Tammi North says the residents look forward to other things too, like word search books, puzzles, toques, and mittens, among other things that you may not expect. 

“People don't think that they want makeup: Of course, they want makeup,” North says. “Blush, lipstick is huge, eyeshadow, and honestly a darker tone of lipstick... they like more like a reddish burgundy colour. And you’d be surprised how many people want red nail polish.”

Donations will be accepted until Dec. 15 and can be dropped off at the Hamlets at Westsyde or you can arrange for a pick-up.

More important than stocking stuffers is time spent with the residents. North says that she would like to have an equal number of volunteers to residents, but she can count the current volunteers on one hand. She says there are many opportunities available for anyone who wishes to spend some time with the residents.

“They can help with bingo, they can do one to ones, they can play card games, they can help with decorating for special events, we have pub night, they can just sit with them while they’re having a beer, pretty much anything you can think of," North says.

North says the volunteer can also help with activities like gardening, baking and crafting. To be a volunteer, one must be at least 16 years old or accompanied by a parent. You can begin the process by sending North an email.

“I bring them in for an interview and after that, I do reference checks, they get a criminal record check, and that’s it. I’m inclusive, everybody and anybody is welcome for volunteering,” North says.

Corbett and North agree that getting involved with your local seniors home is a great way to spread positivity during the holidays. Get in touch with your nearby facilities and see what kind of donations they may be looking for or which volunteer opportunities are available.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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