We just put a bow on this year's edition of Be a Santa To a Senior.
Looking back over our 10th year there's so much to be thankful for and so many people to thank for their contribution to this year's endeavor.
First, we are thankful for our office staff for managing our business in the midst of this incredible community project. It's a great comfort to Karen and me as we turn our attention to Be a Santa To a Senior. Knowing that clients and caregivers are well taken care of by the rest of our team makes it all work.
We are thankful for the unwavering support of Canada Purple Shield who again this year gave $10,000 in the summer to help us plan and prepare for this year's Christmas program. We appreciate all the other corporate donors and individual donors who, in the end, helped us get very close to our $20,000 budget with donations totalling $19,125.
This year we were particularly aware of people who joined us to deliver gifts who had never done so before. They were invited by previous participants and so it was wonderful to see the program through their eyes, experiencing it for the first time.
This email is from a first-time volunteer:
I just wanted to send a quick email. My sister and I volunteered for Be a Santa to a Senior for the first time this year - but this won't be our last year as we plan to sign up again!
First, I felt that this was such a smooth process - from signing up online, receiving your informative emails, and things running very smoothly on the day of. We also were able to spend some great quality time with two men at Central Haven. It was such a great afternoon!
Thank you for offering this volunteer opportunity, and for all the work you do! It was exactly what we were looking for this Christmas! And again, we're looking forward to next year!
Jill & Colleen Pankoski
Every year it amazes us the amount of caring people truly have within themselves. How is it that 400 strangers can get together over 4 days and create such a meaningful and compassionate connection with the seniors in our city? It just seems to happen naturally every year, just like it happens everyday with each of our caregivers!
Reflections after a week of visits:
I think about all of the hard things that so many of them have come through in their lives to end up feeling alone. The few minutes we all spent made a difference and our caregivers are making a difference every day.
One of the many 'stand out' moments was at Parkridge with James F. James was sitting in his chair at a table by himself, in his own reality, watching the events taking place in the common area when my eyes were drawn towards him. My heart felt heavy as I noticed no one was engaging with him, he was all alone. As I approached the table with the two volunteers to provide the gift of time, James had his head down.
I got down to his level, gentle took his hand in mine and said hello James, you look beautiful today.
He lifted his head with a huge smile, and as I gently talked to him, his face lit up. The two volunteers placed the bag on the table but James did not seem interested in it. The two volunteers tried to engage James but he was not giving them any attention and they said to me, oh we get it, you only have eyes for her and they chuckled.
We did eventually get James to feel the soft warm blanket and the ladies were able to place it on his lap, but I am telling you, his facial expressions clearly read that he was over joyed that he got our full attention for an extended period of time, just one on one.
This was a moment that I will never forget. On my drive back to the office and a few tissues later thought, this is why I come to work each day, to support each caregiver to be successful no matter what illness or conditions the client/clients live with. What at a powerful impact our caregiver visits make each and everyday to the clients we are serving. THANK YOU CAREGIVERS!
"Sheila" is in the Convalescent Unit at City Hospital after breaking her femur 6 weeks ago. She wanted to go home for Christmas but was advised it would be better if she stayed at the hospital to keep up her rehab and exercise routines. She said it took some time to accept that she will be on the unit for at least another 6 weeks. She is a lovely person with a supportive family who visit regularly. Even so she welcomed me and we swapped stories about our kids and her grand and great-grand kids. There was a warmth and an ease to our conversation. I'm thankful we could spend some time together. She was gracious, funny and shared honestly and openly about her situation and what she faces medically in the future. I wish Sheila all the very best as she recovers from this injury and prepares for other medical interventions.
Our hearts are full. Thanks once again to all who contributed their time or resources or both to help us reach nearly 900 residents in 12 venues. Let's do it all again next year! Follow us on Facebook or reach out to our office to learn more about donations and volunteers for the 2020 edition of Be a Santa to a Senior.
Delivery Week is coming up fast… we can’t wait! The Christmas Cards are coming in from Elementary School Students from across Saskatoon. Here’s a sampling:
Thanks to the students from: St. Marguerite School, St. Luke School, Hugh Cairns, George Vanier and Silverspring!
Over 380 volunteers…. Some are helping us get ready next week by preparing gift bags. Thanks Val, Vivian, Rita, Marg and Judy!
$18,450 raised… thanks so much to all who signed up and donated. We appreciate
Canada Purple Shield and their ongoing support of this program with a $10,000 donation this year.
Corporate and individual donations have enabled us to pull together an additional 150 gifts from our original goal of 700 – so now we’re up to 850!
Shout outs to:
*SARC/SARCAN Social Fund
* Allied Denture Clinic
* Dr. Michael York
*Leland Kimpinski LLP
* Terry Kimpinski
* Mid-West Group and OK Tire Saskatoon
* Loraas Disposal North
* Complete Technologies
* Catherine Fowler
* SGI Injury and Rehab
* ProActive Fitness
* Canadian Western Bank
* Blue Moose Media
** The complete list of donors will be included in our final wrap up. Thanks to everyone who contributed!
The Workshop will be organized later this week as we get ready for the first wave of deliveries starting on Monday.
The first of 3 videos for delivery volunteers for this year has been posted on our
Youtube Channel so you can share them with colleagues who are new to the program or use them as a refresher.
That’s a quick update for now. More to follow!
Each week we are thankful for the volunteers who have joined us and for the individuals, families and companies that support
Be a Santa to a Senior financially. We have some great news: Today, we are closing donations and volunteer registrations.
VOLUNTEERS COMMITTED: 386 Thank you to all who have signed up – both new and returning!!
This is the earliest we have ever closed volunteer registration and we hope people won't be too disappointed if you had hoped to register this year. We encourage you to pay a visit to a long-term care home in the coming weeks or in the new year.
Shopping is well under way and the gifts are getting organized.
The workshop is open, and two work parties are complete.
The first Work/Party happened this week, thanks to this energetic group for their time to prepare the first wave of gifts:
FIRST DELIVERY OF THE SEASON
Shout out to K+S Potash who brought gifts to St. Ann’s Residence on Nov 29th. Some staff brought their young children along to spend the afternoon visiting with residents. Always a lovely experience!
GETTING READY FOR THE MAIN DELIVERY WEEK
Thanks to Budget Truck Rental on 45th for their support, the Storage Mart for donating boxes and The Rent-It Store for donating the equipment we need to organize the gifts for the ten different locations we’ll be delivering to between December 16-19th.
A LEGACY OF SUPPORT
Special thanks to Canada Purple Shield for their generous support over the years. Their $10,000 gift this year enabled us to launch the 2019 Be a Santa to a Senior program with confidence.
COMING SOON: VIDEO TUTORIALS ON ENGAGING A LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENT AND ANOTHER PROGRESS UPDATE!
Here we go!
The 2019 edition of the
Be a Santa to a Senior Community Program is officially underway:
- We thank Canada Purple Shield, a long-time program supporter, for their generous donation of $10,000 to kick start this year's fundraising efforts.
Thanks to Chris Carr from Global News Morning for sharing our story this week:
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: 700 gifts and visits involving 350 volunteers to 10 facilities in 4 days! We are 68% of the way in donations and 60% of the way in volunteer registrations.
Thank you Saskatoon for your incredible support of this program!
Help make a difference in the lives of seniors this Christmas! Sponsored by Home Instead Senior
Be a Santa to a Senior is a true community program, with generous support from Saskatoon businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community to provide companionship for seniors.
Be a Santa to a Senior program is all about including seniors in the joy of the holiday season," says Greg Charyna, owner of the Saskatoon Home Instead Senior Care office. "A simple gift shows them they are a loved and vital member of our community, bringing holiday cheer to those who may have very few visitors this holiday season."
This year we aim to provide a personal visit and deliver more than 700 simple gifts to Long Term Care residents. Currently we are raising funds for the gifts; in November Elementary school children make cards and we recruit and prepare volunteers; in December we coordinate visits to 10 care homes.
We have partnered with
Canada Purple Shield to help with gift collection and distribution, as well as local Saskatoon schools to create cards and crafts to be included with seniors' gifts.
"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 in Saskatoon. "Many seniors living in care homes have very few visitors. Our Santa initiative brings holiday cheer to those who need it most."
Thank you in advance for your financial and volunteer support; we ask for your ongoing involvement in Be A Santa to a Senior this year and into the future!
1. DONATE to the gift fund
Our goal is $20,000.
2. Register to attend a delivery and offer the gift of your time to visit with a senior
Groups are welcome!
Hundreds of volunteers are required to provide individual visits during gift delivery. 50 volunteers are needed each morning and afternoon. Pick a date that works for you and your group.
REGISTER FOR DELIVERIES :
3. Follow us on Facebook!
We will keep in touch with updates on the program's progress along with tips and suggestions about ways to engage the seniors who are living with a variety of aging conditions.
4. Learn more about the creative and generous ways people have contributed to the
Be a Santa to a Senior Program over the past 9 years. Visit our website at
Be A Santa To A Senior 2018
As we wrap up our visits and gift-giving, it's time share some stories and comments about those who contributed to this year's program and those who were the recipients of the community's love and generosity. We'll start with some highlights from delivery week; please also take a few minutes to read about the bigger picture and help us recognize those who contributed their finances and their time to ensure the program's success.
By the numbers, we had over 450 volunteers register to deliver a gift and a visit to 1200 seniors in 15 facilities over four days. We were also able to share some Christmas cheer with patients in both the Transitional Care and Convalescent Units at City Hospital.
We were hosted by wonderful staff at: Sunnyside Adventist Care Home, Preston Extendicare, Luther Special Care Home and Luther Memory Care, Saskatoon Convalescent Home, Parkridge East One, Stensrud Lodge, Samaritan Place, St. Joseph's Care Home, Circle Drive Special Care Home, Warman Mennonite Special Care Home, Sherbrooke Community (Veteran's Village and Kinsmen Village), Oliver Lodge, Porteous Lodge and Central Haven Special Care Home.
The staff at each care home were great hosts and joyfully introduced our volunteers to their residents. And oh, the residents! We experienced the joy of human interaction. How simple and yet profound: be genuinely interested in someone, make yourself available and then… CONNECTION! Volunteers were privileged to have some lovely conversations and hear amazing stories. One volunteer, reflecting on his time with a few residents said, "Everyone has a couple of hours to give…that was [for me] two hours well spent."
To see more pictures, go to
How we got here and where we are going…
First, Canada Purple Shield, as they have for many years, underwrote a substantial portion of the operating budget. We let them know what our plan is for the year and they provide a generous donation to enable us to begin purchasing supplies and making arrangements. We thank Canada Purple Shield for $10,000 this year…an amazing gift.
As we launched the 2018 program in November, our friends at CTV, Global, CKOM and CJWW helped us get the word out, along with our Facebook friends.
One volunteer approached us early and offered to make two large banners for the delivery trucks. Many thanks, Tamara Pelemis, for your creative and artistic talents!
All together, just under $25,000 was received for this year's program. Admittedly short of our goal of $50,000, but an amazing thing happened. Retailers and other service providers helped us stretch our available dollars by providing much appreciated discounts. We heard the store manager's advice to make contact well in advance for pre-ordering and sponsorship requests. We will be in touch!
A few examples: Superstore provided excellent discounts on gift bags, chocolates and cookies. Andrey's Independent Grocer did the same. Safeway and Sobey's helped out with discounts on some purchases, as did the Great Canadian Warehouse. The Rent-it Store made us an offer we could not refuse: free rental of 4 dollys for delivery week. Budget Truck Rental on 45th provided two delivery trucks for the cost of one. Each time we approached a retailer and told them about Be a Santa to a Senior, they were quick to lend their support. Other retailers who helped us maximize the impact of the money we had: Cleo, Reitman's, Dollarama, Penningtons, Giant Tiger, Northern Reflections, Santorini Designs, Alia and Tan Jay, Wal Mart, and Calendar Club. Our thanks to each business for their contributions to the program this year.
So, with the money in place and the merchandise purchased, we had to ensure that we had enough volunteers committed to provide a visit with long term care residents. And once again, enthusiastic individuals, families, co-workers or other groups registered early; we had so much interest that we had to turn away some folks and encourage them to sign up next year.
A special thank-you to Karen's sister, Diane and her spouse, Dr. Michael York for three significant contributions to this year's program. First, for a generous financial donation. Second, for their logistical support – helping us purchase and transport carloads of Pringles, cookies, chocolates and other items! Third, to Mike and his colleagues at FYi doctors – Atrium on 1st for providing our workshop space. Being near our office was a great help when it came to organizing and loading the gifts for delivery.
We assembled the gift bags on site and added a hand decorated Christmas card courtesy of students from: St. Anne's School, St. Augustine Preschool, St. Marguerite School (Grade 1 Class), St. Luke School (Grade 4), Hugh Cairns School, Silverspring School and Roland Michener School. Each card was a work of art and conveyed a heartfelt message. It's no understatement that for most residents, the card is the item they will cherish the most, well beyond the holidays.
It took a small army of volunteers to organize the gifts, load the trucks, drive the trucks, and prepare the gift bags. We are so thankful for Workshop Elves: Wendy, Bill, Barb, Tamara, Vivian, Lisa and Reta; Wendy, Linda, Jane and Don who helped organize the workshop space. Truck Drivers: Garry, Vince, Bill and Brenda; Truck Team (Workshop on Wheels) Elves: Shelley, Tamara, Sharon, Joan, Wendy, Linda, Sharon V, Judy, Gillian, Ashley D, Ashley W, Jordan and Darryl, Erin C, Sharon, Kim, and Angela.
It took an even larger army of kind-hearted individuals to sit with a long term care resident and give them the time and attention they deserve. There were literally hundreds who signed up on their own or with family members or friends and colleagues. We've included a list of some of the groups who registered to help with deliveries this year: ProACTIVE Fitness, Hugh Cairns Community School, Martensville High School, Sherpa, Express Employment, Neighborhood Church, NSBA, Parkinson Canada, Ardel Steel, Loraas Disposal Services, Canadian Western Bank, SunLife, National Bank, Health Quality Council, College of Medicine, Saskatoon Police Service, BMA Benefits, and Tetra Tech. We made training videos for volunteers suggesting how to engage with a resident for a successful visit. We saw people putting those best practices to good use!
We appreciate the media's interest and willingness to help us promote Be a Santa to explain the program, encourage donations and volunteer registration. We are especially thankful when our media friends join us on a delivery to show the heart and importance of the program. Special thanks to Janella Hamilton of CTV, who, along with intrepid camera guy, Andrew, told the Be a Santa story with great insight and creativity. You can see a compilation here:
https://bit.ly/2QD60BQ or here:
We are thankful for the financial support of
all donors – every contribution helped us to achieve the goal of providing a small gift for each resident. Our hope is that as people become more familiar with this program, corporate donations will grow in coming years, which will help us budget and pre-order some gift items months in advance. Some families commented that giving to this program was meaningful to them since they did so in memory of loved ones who have passed. In July/August 2019 we hope to hear from corporate and individual donors who are interested in supporting next year's effort and will be reaching out to those who have provided support in the past.
Thanks to all who have supported Be a Santa to a Senior this year. We are encouraged by the community's generous sharing of time and financial resources – which is the Saskatoon way.
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous New Year!
Karen and Greg Charyna
Owners, Home Instead Senior Care
$10,000 – Canada Purple Shield
$3000 - Great West Life
$1000 – Rexall
$725 - Anonymous
$596 – Ardel Steel Saskatoon
$500 - Canadian Western Bank
$500 – CLAC
$250 – ProACTIVE Fitness
$250 – OK Tire – Saskatoon Group
$200 – Safeway University Heights
Individual and Group donations
$1000 – Dr. Michael York
$500 – Christy and Colin Zacharias
$317 – The Staff at Ex-Cell Hearing
$310 – Great Western Thursday Nite Dart League
$250 – Anonymous
$230 - PRC Occupational Therapy Dept
$200 - Hugh Cairns V.C. School
$200 - Melissa Kobylak
$200 – Lori Strunk
$196 - RUH Housekeeping Services
$151 - HCVC Discovery Preschool
$135 - Beta Sigma Phi - Preceptor Omicron
$125 - David Gregor
$105 - Tracy Revoy
$100 – Sheryl Ens
$100 – Landyn Moate
$100 – Elaine Ballard
$100 - Jaret and Nic Waddell
$100 - Carolyn Yule
$100 – Liz Charyna
$100 - Jodi Nehring
$100 – Anonymous
$100 – Audra Remenda
$50 – G Riou
$25 – Janette Schwandt
$25 – Brigitte Luciuk
$15 - Kayla Bakken
$22 – Anonymous
$50 – Anonymous
$20 - Edith Conacher
$20 - Chantal Gauthier
$50 - Shelley McKinlay
$20 - Mandy Davidson
$20 - Bria Ashmeade
$25 - Margaret Redl
$50 - Tara Atleo
$25 - Anonymous
$80 - Anonymous
$20 - Kristen Marrs
$15 - Gina Khonje
$10 – Anonymous
$50 - Bernie Mountford
$50 - Keri Dueck Hbi Office Plus
$85 - Anonymous
$20 - Tony and Mel Boensch
$50 - Rita and Rylan Moate
$25 - Kathy Richinski
$20 – Anonymous
$40 - Rita Quinlan
$50 - Helen and Vince Ashmeade
$50 - Lara Schroeder
$19 - Heidi Abramyk
$30 - Tracy Mikula
$50 - Sherry Pederson
$35 - Mandy Gourlay
$20 - Kyla Hicks
$30 - Reta Downing
$30 - Anonymous
$25 - Kayla Langer
$50 - Anonymous
$20 - Julianne Wedewer
$50 - Shelley McConnell-Harder
$50 - Verna Audette
$50 - Anne Marie Edmonds
$40 - Charmayne Hunter
$25 - Jackie Cooper
$40 - Vanessa Ripley
$20 - Amanda Crane
$25 - Audrey Grainger
$25 - Cheryl Kolbinson
$50 - Jill Fehr
$50 - Gayleen Gulash
$50 - Katlin Zarry
$20 - Anonymous
$85 - Vanese Marchessault
$25 - Pat Venaas
$25 - Debbie Larson
$50 - Jane Richardson
$25 - Tracy Nygaard
$50 - Brenda Zolinsky
$50 - Margaret Johnson
$25 - Nikki Gerrard
$40 - Jordanna Janine
$25 - Christie Hill
$25 - Angela Rioux
$20 - Kate Beattie
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. Help us bring some holiday cheer to the lives of seniors who are alone and living in care facilities!
For 9 years the Annual Be a Santa to a Senior® program, sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care® has gladly brought together community volunteers and seniors living in long term care homes during the Christmas holiday season.
This year we aim to provide 1000+ personal visits and gift deliveries: businesses and families donate funds for the gifts; elementary school children make cards and crafts; hundreds of volunteers are recruited and coordinated for delivery parties to 15 long term care homes between Dec 13 and 18.
Donation Deadline is DECEMBER 6th. Your donation will be gratefully received and used to purchase, wrap and deliver appropriate gifts for residents of long-term care homes (examples: seasonal plants, lap blankets, unscented toiletries, socks, 2019 calendars, picture books, plush toys, snacks, sweets and treats).
Hello Friends of Home Instead Senior Care and Be A Santa To A Senior!
TIME FOR A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS!
We have had just over 100 people and organizations donate to our gift fund and our total raised this year is
$24,049! Thank you!
We are grateful that retailers provided goods at discounted prices in support of the program. We have some nice gifts ready to give! We want to recognize and thank the staff at Giant Tiger, Reitman's, Santorini, Cleos, Northern Reflections, the Superstore, Wholesale Club and Andrey's Independent for their exceptional customer service.
Thanks to many volunteers last week for providing and assembling boxes, purchasing gifts, removing price tags, organizing the correct # of items to go to each care home, labelling gift bags, etc.
Marina has been burning up the phone lines finalizing details with our truck driver, and gift assembly team, delivery volunteers, care home contacts and teachers. This week 7 schools dropped off their students' creative works of art. They are beautiful.
Looking forward to the first deliveries on December 13th.