Be a Santa to a Senior

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Bastas logo.png Be a Santa to a Senior 2017

3 stories for you...

This year, Be a Santa to a Senior was in a different form than usual - we invited our volunteers to create their own outreach and they sure did! We look forward to working with volunteers who continue to support this community project next year. In the meantime, please take a look at these stories from individuals and groups who gave the gift of time with seniors living in long term care over the past few weeks.



1sm.jpgOn December 15, 2017, members of the Hugh Cairns V.C. School Student Leader Corps along with a handful of teachers visited Sherbrooke Community Center, bringing games and snacks to the Friday night game club.2.jpg

Students gave the gift of their time to Elders as they played games, visited and made memories.

Students raised money by collecting recyclables which they used topurchase the games and snacks.  A special thank you to Todd Hiebert for making and donating wooden card holders for the Elders.

Thank you too to Ruth Gosselin for setting up our visit.  This event marks the fourth year Hugh Cairns V.C. school has been a part of the Be a Santa For a Senior initiative organized by Home Instead Senior Care.



K+S Potash (Heather Richinski and crew) spent time with residents of St. Ann's Special Care Home. See more great pics here:

           3sm.jpg 4sm.jpg

KSPC was thrilled to once again "Be a Santa to a Senior" as we delivered gifts to all the residents at St. Ann's Seniors Citizen's Village this afternoon. We are so grateful to our amazing colleagues for fulfilling the Christmas gift wishes of 80 seniors.

This is a truly heartwarming employee initiative! 



Christie Zacharias and a group of family and friends visited with some of the residents of Circle Drive Special Care Home.

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Check out these pics!

Christie posted on her facebook page:

I *miss* having Grandparents. But we had a heart-filling afternoon at Circle Drive Special Care Home today. One precious lady told me "My days are so made today go so fast". I owe so many a deep debt of gratitude- this visit came together so easily because of the generous hearts of all of you who provided gifts. A special thank you to Karen, Katie, Breanne and Cheryl and your students for the cards/gifts- they were SO appreciated by the residents. Karen Lilly, thank you for making this such a great day - you tirelessly create such joy for so many people - you are SO good at your job. And Greg Charyna from Home Instead Senior Care, thank you for being the inspiration for this - without your incredibly positive experiences in years past, I would never have attempted this or have known the need. I can't wait to partner up next year (I will be harassing you starting in...February..?!)! Merry Christmas with gratitude to all of you. If you want to be part of this next year, please let me know!


Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season

and a Happy New Year!


2016 Update #4

In a word:  Phew!

We're tired but it's a good kinda tired.  There are a lot of stories to tell and people to thank.  Please take a few minutes to review this year's Be a Santa to Senior community program. For more photos and video, please scroll down this page and you can always check our Facebook page as well!


The Wheels on the Bus (and the Cube Van)…

As the program grows, it is super helpful to have larger vehicles to transport gifts and people.  Thanks to Emmanuel Baptist Church for the loan of their bus.  Much appreciated!  Thanks also to Vito Lorenzo and the crew at Budget Car and Truck Rental for the use of a 1 ton cube van for deliveries as well.

Donations to the cause…

Thanks to Dr. Michael York, Marian H, Mike C, Danyluk Consulting Corp and Todd & Barb A for financial support in the final days which helped us acquire some much needed items and meet expenses.

What Elf did we need?

A Lead Elf who knows how to check her list twice and make sure everyone gets their wishes fulfilled.  Thanks Linda Suveges, for volunteering to manage the workshop and doing such a bang up job!  Along with Nadine, Jane and Volunteer Crew, Linda ensured each gift was complete, wrapped and ready for delivery.

The gift of gift-giving…

The gifts, as always, were thoughtfully purchased by kind-hearted folks in the community.  There are so many pictures and stories to share.  Individuals, couples, parents and kids, whole families came to our office with gifts in hand.  These people have the gift of gift-giving.  Shopping is a creative pursuit and the Workshop was bursting at the seams with expressions of love and generosity.  To the small army of gift purchasers, a heartfelt thank you!


Some delivery volunteers were new to us this year, while others make delivery week a tradition for the past few years.  Our sincere thanks to all who have shared Christmas cheer with seniors living in long term care. 

Some people talked about what drew them to the Be a Santa program or what keeps them coming back:

"How much joy it brought them to be able to sit and have that one on one time with the seniors and to hear their stories."

"It was magical to be able to bring a bit of joy to their day."

"I've been a part of BASTAS for the past three years.  My Grandparents have all passed and for me it is away to connect with other Grandma's & Grandpa's that may not have family or get a visit."

"Seeing their faces light up as they read the handmade card from the students, was a joy."

"It is emotional as they are so hungry for companionship, human touch. Grateful that I was able to be a part of this great program. This was my first year, but I will definitely be back next year."

Check out the hashtag:  #BASTASyxe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to read more stories and comments.

A few more scenes from delivery week:

Leslie looks great in a new black Stetson.

leslie 2.PNG

It was often the comments from the staff who work most closely with their seniors that had the greatest impact.  One staff member related to us after the delivery was completed how much it meant to one of the residents at Kinsmen.  He had received an iPad and for him, it was a new beginning after a rather harsh and difficult year.  This care aide fought back tears as she thanked us, stating "You will never know how much this new start has meant to him."


Another delivery was all about the presence of children as a group from Hugh Cairns surrounded Peter, a retired teacher, in the dining room.  They even sang to him.  He was in his glory to be around kids again and the staff communicated to us that this was a breakthrough moment for him. He thanked the staff for such a wonderful visit.


  • Sometimes it's the little things… like Cheezies, KD - the resident beamed, "It's my FAVORITE!", Rider gear, Blue Jays gear, craft projects and a multitude of specially chosen  colors and sizes of clothing items.
  • One more:  Emily wrote, "Had the best week being a Santa to a Senior with a great group of volunteers! Thanks Home Instead Senior Care, Saskatoon for putting on such a great event! 
    Fun story: this lady's name is also Emily. Her youngest daughter was a psychology major and horse lover [just like me]. That daughter has passed away so yes there were a few tears shed over the similarities."                   



The 7th Annual Be a Santa to a Senior Contributors.

Special thanks to Brad Klein and Canada Purple Shield for financial support enabling us to purchase supplies and additional gifts.  In the past 4 years, Brad has donated $17,500 to help us share Christmas cheer with seniors living in long term care.  We also acknowledge the tremendous support of Mona Loshack and Betty Anne Fisher and staff of Market Mall; for the past seven years, they have taken very good care of us from Kick-Off to creating space for the Workshop to drop-offs and everything in between.  Thanks as well to Program Coordinator, Marina Kohle, who made sure everyone knew when and where along with keeping up her duties as Home Instead Senior Care's Administrative Assistant.

  • November 15th Kick-Off event:  Music from Evan Hardy Collegiate Jazz Studies Class, Stacey Mortensen-Spokes, Music Director.  Displays of gift ideas courtesy of Kennedy's Parable, Alia, Reitmans, Carlton Cards, and Coles.  Over 400 ornaments were removed from the Home Instead tree in the first 10 days!
  • Media outlets shared the story:  Jeff Rogstad and CTV News at Noon, CTV Morning Live with Janella Hamilton, CTV News at 6, CBC, Global and CJWW
  • 1200 gifts!
    • Special Mention goes to Recreation and other support staff from 17 care homes who provided thoughtful and personalized gift suggestions for each resident
    • Thanks to Janice N, Wendy D and Laurie G who prepared each gift tag. 
    • Individual gift tags went out to our 5 Tree Host Locations:
            • ​​​BMO Market Mall
        • Kennedy's Parable
        • Lawson Heights Mall
        • Avalon Medicine Shoppe
        • Home Instead Senior Care, Market Mall

    • Shout outs to K+S Potash who took 60 ornaments and proACTIVE Fitness who took over 40 and volunteered in the workshop and delivering gifts.  MD Ambulance donated a pile of extra gifts when they learned we ran out of ornaments – we found homes for them all!
    • Gifts poured in and were prepared for delivery in the Workshop by Lead Elf, Linda Suveges and her Awesome Volunteer Crew of 100 throughout the first two weeks of December.
    • 7500 sq. ft. workshop space courtesy of Market Mall
    • Curtains and Tables with support from Hub City Display
    • Christmas Cards, artistically created by students from these schools:
        • Hugh Cairns
      • Silver Spring
      • Saskatoon Christian
      • St. Augustine
      • St. Anne
    • Delivered by 400 volunteers, including many who have been part of previous delivery weeks.  Families with small children, teens, seniors and employee groups.  Shouting out to the teams from various workplaces who joined us this year:
      • MNP
      • Loraas
      • Canadian Western Bank
      • Boardwalk
      • Saskatoon Police Service
      • Lawson Heights Mall
      • Willows Dental
      • FYidoctors (Atrium on 1st and Market Mall)
      • Acadia McKague
      • Cooperators
      • BMO
      • Regional Psych Centre
      • Parkinson Canada
      • Hugh Cairns School
      • Silverspring School
      • Lexis Homes

We enjoy working with like-minded folks to share Christmas cheer with seniors living in long term care and we'll be back at it next year, kicking things off in the week after Remembrance Day.

It has been our pleasure to renew the acquaintance of many volunteers who have said "this is our tradition now" as they participate in gift purchases, wrapping and delivery.  As we look ahead to next year, we will look back at ways to improve the overall program and experience for everyone involved. 

A few specific needs have emerged so far:

  1.  We don't take for granted our space at Market Mall… rumor has it, the mall is growing and expanding and we may need a new 7500 sq. ft. space next year.
  2. Dedicated drivers for delivery week along with two Cube Vans and two passenger vans.

The most common reaction we hear our volunteers express each year is in reference to the power of companionship and the beauty of making a connection with a senior in need of encouragement.  Our seniors are in need of companionship all year round.  What Be a Santa volunteers experienced over a few minutes during deliveries last week, our CAREGivers get to do all year long!  Perhaps you know someone who would benefit from our services or who has the "gift" of caregiving… we'd love to speak with them!  To learn more about our services, please call our office at 639-638-0159.  To explore becoming a CAREGiver, please click here.

All the best to you for a Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy New Year!


Update #3

Dear Friends,

The 7th Annual Be a Santa to a Senior community program is in the home stretch!  As we gear up for delivery week starting December 13th, most of the gifts have arrived and are being wrapped!  It has been a pleasure meeting folks who have dropped off gifts.  Some people are even bringing little bags of "extras" for us to share as needed.  Anonymous cash donations have also come in along with some financial support from The Past Honored Royal Purple Ladies Association, Kay D and Leo V.  Thank you!

Some special shout outs: 

Linda S and niece Nadine for managing the inner workings of the workshop – it's a big job and they have it all in order!  Thanks!

Linda Nadine.jpg 

Mandy and colleagues from MD Ambulance; Shelley, Simone and clients from proACTIVE Fitness; the crew at K + S Potash; and students of Hugh Cairns School who dropped off a ton of gifts this week and will be back to help deliver them next week! 

Other groups who are coming together to visit with seniors during delivery week: 

  • Acadia McKague
  • Lawson Heights Admin
  • Boardwalk
  • Saskatoon Police Service
  • BMO
  • Loraas
  • Co-operators
  • Parkinson Canada
  • Hugh Cairns School
  • MNP
  • Silverspring School
  • Canadian Western Bank
  • Lexis Homes

Please invite your staff, team, family to join our BE A SANTA TO A SENIOR gift delivery party! Following are the days and times we have openings for volunteers to deliver gifts to seniors:
• Tues Dec 13th AM and PM
• Thurs Dec 15th AM and PM

AM Deliveries 9:30–12 ; PM Deliveries 1:30-4

Such amazing generosity has poured out for our seniors in Long Term Care homes.  This is turning into a grand celebration of our love and concern for seniors.  Way to go Saskatoon!


To see more photos and stories, please take a look at our Facebook page and follow us!

Thanks again for your interest and involvement in Be a Santa to a Senior!


Update #2

Hello Friends,

Great news:  after two weeks, we estimate there are less than 20 ornaments remaining to be picked up… Tree hosts have done a fabulous job.  It is best to call the tree location and ask if they have any ornaments left. 

  • Home Instead Senior Care              306-9431-4663
  • BMO                                                     (call Home Instead, we'll know if there are any left)
  • Lawson Heights Mall                        306.933.2422
  • Kennedy's Parable                            306.244.3700
  • Avalon Medicine Shoppe                 306.343.1683

Gifts being dropped off:  The BEST news is that many gifts have been returned to us already… the workshop is starting to fill up!  If you have an ornament, remember that gifts need to be purchased and returned to us unwrapped by December 6th.

These folks all said how much they enjoyed picking an ornament and purchasing gifts for their person:

HISC 3023 BASTAS2.jpg

New Facility:  the Langham Senior Citizen’s Special Care Home…. looking for an team to visit those residents during delivery week – call Marina if you’d like to be part of this road trip!

New Organizations/ Groups joining us:   PRO-Active Fitness – 20 ornaments for their members.  Thanks to Shelley and Simone! 

New Wheels:  A special shout out to Rob Priestley and Emmanuel Baptist Church for the loan of their bus for delivery week.  Having vehicles to transport a large volume of gifts at one time is extremely helpful.  So special thanks to EBC for their support in this way.  We are still looking for at least one more large cube van or vehicle to transport gifts during delivery week.  A pick-up with a cover or canopy could also do the trick.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for volunteer opportunities.

Thanks for your ongoing support of Be a Santa to a Senior!

- Greg

Update #1

Hello Friends,

Here we go!

The 7th Annual Be a Santa to a Senior Community Program is officially underway after:

  • a sneak preview on Monday with Jeff Rogstad on CTV News at Noon
  • a fabulous launch on Tuesday,
    • featuring the Evan Hardy Collegiate Jazz Studies Class and Band Director, Stacey Mortenson-Spokes
    • Displays courtesy of Coles, Carlton Cards, Reitmans, Tan Jay/ Allia and Kennedy's Parable
    • Coverage (TV and online) from CBC and Global, radio interviews with CBC and CJWW
  • Ornaments being picked up with enthusiasm.  We estimate 400 have been removed from just our tree at Market Mall… amazing!
  • Groups and Teams approaching to purchase gifts, help in the workshop or assist with deliveries.  Shout outs to:
    • K+S Potash who picked up 40 ornaments and are on board to help deliver
    • Lexis Homes who are joining a delivery crew

Overall, we are off to a terrific start.  Special thanks to Key Supporter, Brad Klein and Canada Purple Shield, whose financial support over the past 4 years has enabled up to purchase supplies and be ready for this month.

  • Thanks also to Betty Anne Fisher, Mona Loschak and the crew at Market Mall accommodating the Be a Santa Kick Off event each year.
  • We also acknowledge the support of Hub City Display and Midwest Sports for their contributions to this year's program.
  • A heartfelt "thank you" to folks who have been sharing our Facebook posts and encouraging family and friends to get involved.  We have heard some wonderful stories already about families, offices and groups who have decided to brighten Christmas for a senior living in long term care through Be a Santa to a Senior this year.  Remember, this year's goal:  1200 gifts and visits involving 400 volunteers to 15 facilities in 4 days!  To volunteer, call Marina:  639-638-0159
  • For those who'd still like to pick up an ornament or several, this year's five tree locations are:
    • Home Instead Senior Care and BMO – Market Mall
    • Avalon Medicine Shoppe
    • Lawson Heights Mall
    • Kennedy's Parable

Since this is the first post, I'll keep it brief… but here's a photo and links to news items – please share!

The support of our community is inspiring and energizing and makes Be a Santa to a Senior a highlight of our year. Thanks for your interest and participation!

With appreciation,


Hello Saskatoon!!!

Are you ready for the Be A Santa To A Senior 2016?

Help make a difference in the lives of seniors this Christmas! This holiday season, many Saskatoon seniors who are alone and living in care facilities will receive some holiday cheer thanks to the 7th Annual Be a Santa to a Senior® program. Sponsored by the local Home Instead Senior Care® office, the program brings together area nonprofits, retailers, volunteers and members of the community to provide gifts and companionship for lonely and isolated seniors.

"Many of our community's seniors do not have the chance to celebrate the holidays surrounded by loved ones, and we know that there are many people in the community who want to reach out - together we can make a difference by providing gifts and companionship," says Greg Charyna, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving the Saskatoon area. "Many seniors living in care homes have very few visitors. Our Santa initiative brings holiday cheer to those who need it most."

HISC 3023.png 

For the fourth year in a row, The Be a Santa to a Senior program is sponsored by Brad Klein of Canada Purple Shield in Saskatchewan. His financial support will allow for specialized purchases and additional holiday treats. Program officials hope to collect and deliver more than 1,200 gifts to help local seniors this holiday season.

Starting November 15th, participating businesses will display Be a Santa to a Senior Christmas trees that feature ornaments with seniors' first names and their gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick ornaments from the trees, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped (and with the ornament attached) to the tree location or to the Home Instead Senior Care office at Market Mall. Gifts can also be dropped off at Market Mall Customer Service during evenings and weekends.

Be a Santa to a Senior trees will be located at:
• Home Instead Senior Care Office, Market Mall
• BMO Market Mall
• Avalon Medicine Shoppe
• Lawson Heights Mall
• Kennedy's Parable

Program partners and volunteers will wrap and distribute the gifts to local seniors who might otherwise spend the holiday alone. Hundreds of volunteers are required to make the project run.

Many elves make light work! Here's how you can help:

• Volunteer to Organize & Wrap Gifts 
          o Dec. 1-12th 9:30 – 12 AND 1-4pm daily
          o 4-10 volunteers needed each day, register first

• Volunteer to Deliver Gifts 
          o Dec 13-16 Mornings 9:30 – 12; Afternoons 1:30 – 4pm
          o 50 volunteers needed each morning and afternoon

Call Marina @ 639.638.0159 to volunteer yourself, your family, your team, neighbors, or employees or co-workers. For more information about the program, visit or call 639.638.0159

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