Be a Santa to a Senior

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Be A Santa To A Senior 2018


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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.

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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." 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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: 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

Corporate donations

$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 – 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 – Anonymous

$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 – Anonymous

$20 - Kyla Hicks

$30 - Reta Downing

$30 - Anonymous

$25 - Kayla Langer

$50 - Anonymous

$50 - Anonymous

$20 - Julianne Wedewer

$50 - Shelley McConnell-Harder

$25 - Anonymous

$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 – Anonymous

$50 - Brenda Zolinsky

$50 - Margaret Johnson

$25 - Nikki Gerrard

$40 - Jordanna Janine

$25 - Christie Hill

$50 - Anonymous

$25 - Angela Rioux

$20 - Kate Beattie


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All about Be A Santa To A Senior

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!

Last update!


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.


Update #4

Dear Friends of Home Instead and Be A Santa To A Senior,

Be A Santa To A Senior 2018 is well underway this year.  All goals are met except our fundraising goal. We have 400 volunteers ready to deliver gifts, a truck driver, gift packers, card makers and storage space is arranged. 

Now we need gifts!  

Our goal is to raise $50,000 to purchase gifts for all seniors living in Long Term Care homes.  Today our total raised is $13,910.   We have some deadlines ahead of us and want to be sure that everyone who is planning to make a donation gets it in before Dec 6th

  • Dec 7-12          Shopping days
  • Dec 13-18        Delivery days

Donations can be made through our Go Fund Me page

If you prefer a different method of donation, please contact

We appreciate your support in years past and for considering this request. 


Karen & Greg Charyna, Owners

Home Instead Senior Care


Update #3

We asked you to get involved... and you did! THANKS!

1. Our goal is $50,000.                                                                                                                                       WE ARE 25% COMPLETE. THE GIFT FUND NEEDS TO GROW!                            

2. We need 15 classrooms to make cards.                                                                                                    WE ARE 100% COMPLETE. 1000 CARDS ARE BEING MADE!

3. We need 400 volunteers to deliver gifts and offer the gift of time to visit with a senior                   WE ARE 80% COMPLETE.

We asked you to pick a date that works for you and your group.

Thursday Dec 13 Morning 10 – 12 ✔ Afternoon 2 – 4pm _____                                                            Friday Dec 14 Morning 10 – 12 ✔Afternoon 2 – 4pm ✔                                                                    Monday Dec 17 Morning 10 – 12 ✔ Afternoon 2 – 4pm ✔                                                                          Tuesday Dec 18 Morning 10 – 12 ___Afternoon 2 – 4pm___

VOLUNTEERS STILL NEEDED:                                                                                                                           Dec 13 @ 2pm Dec 18 @ 10am Dec 18 @ 2pm

Groups are welcome!                                                                                                                                        WE HAVE GROUPS REGISTERED:

  • Canadian Western Bank
  • Sheryl's Pickle ball team
  • International Women
  • BMA Benefits
  • Sunlife
  • Martensville High
  • Tetra Tech
  • Express Pros

ALSO COMPLETE:                                                                                                                                         TRUCK DRIVER ✔                                                                                                                                                14 CARE HOMES REGISTERED ✔                                                                                                                     GIFT & GIFT BAG ORGANIZERS ✔


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Update #2

Time for a little update! 

Last week was "Kick-Off" week.  We were thrilled to have a crowd of faithful volunteers from past years gathered around our Be A Santa To A Senior tree at Market Mall.  Greg announced the new program. Thanks to Global Morning News, CTV News at Noon and Six and CJWW for helping to spread the word.   If you missed this …


There are 2 things you are invited to participate in this year with Be A Santa To A Senior:


    Donations are coming in one by one – THANK YOU!!!  The number of donors to date is 19.  Special Thanks to Canada Purple Shield for their donation of $10,000.  We appreciate the early financial push to get the program going.

    Our total stands at $11,615 which is 23% of our goal.

    Registrations for delivering gifts have been steady as well. 

    222 volunteers are signed up!  That's 55% of our goal! 

  • A staff manager called us to say she works with 200 staff and will be collecting donations at work– thanks so much!
  • Several groups have registered to deliver gifts!  Way to go!!  Joining in on the fun are:
             - Mommy Connections are coming ‘in force’ with strollers in tow
             - Shelley Turk of Pro Active Fitness, is bringing a group from the gym.
             - Sheryl E is bringing 10
             - Angela J is bringing 12
             - Kenzie is bringing 10
             - Kelsey is bringing 8!

  • Thanks to volunteers Dawn H, Tamara and Terri for delivering card stock to elementary schools.  And Leanne, Helen, Shannon and Marina for setting up trees.
  • The elementary schools are all signed up now and the students will be rolling up their sleeves to make artful designs in Christmas cards in coming weeks.  Can't wait to see their creations!
  • Thanks to Jennifer and Kevin at Smitty's - Market Mall for providing hot chocolate and treats for our Kick-Off; thanks also to Jen at Coles for the gift display. Along with the tree in front of our old office at Market Mall (by Smitty's), we are glad that BMO- Market Mall, Kennedy's Parables for promoting Be A Santa To A Senior on their trees this year!   Folks who pick an ornament off the trees at any of those locations, or our Home Instead Senior Care office on Idylywyld Dr. N will get the link to our website.  
  • If you have a tree at your business or workplace and would like to promote Be A Santa To A Senior, give us a call for ornaments with our website link.  AND, If you plan to raise funds with family, friends or colleagues –  contact us to receive some information flyers to help your promotion.

Every year as we gear up for Be A Santa To A Senior, it is wonderful to hear from longtime volunteers and people who are new to the program. One supporter shared this comment: "I helped out two years ago in the Senior Santa program and found it rewarding so decided to get involved again this year. Plus, I have worked in long term care homes and know some residents need a little extra joy."

We can't say enough how thankful we are for the strong community support. Together we will provide a gift and a visit for 1000 seniors in long term care. More news and updates to follow!


Update #1

Hello Friends,

Here we go!

The 2018 edition of the Be a Santa to a Senior Community Program is officially underway:

  • 143 volunteers have registered using Survey Monkey! 
  • Emails are being sent out to confirm your volunteer dates and times
  • We missed a question on the survey (it is added now), so please let us know if you are willing to be part of the TRUCK TEAM.   3 people are needed for every delivery:  1 driver, 2 assistants to pack up gifts and hand out to volunteers.  Contact
  • $10,000 was donated on Wednesday, by Canada Purple Shield, a long-time program supporter.

  • Total raised to date…. $10,660



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:  1000 gifts and visits involving 400 volunteers to 15 facilities in 4 days!   We are 20% of the way in donations and 35% of the way in volunteer registrations. 

Thank you Saskatoon for your incredible support of this program!


nsba.pngGreg is speaking at the NSBA this morning so we hope many more will be inspired to get involved.  Thanks for the invitation to encourage businesses to do team-building through service!

Next Wednesday at 10am is an event at Market Mall.  Folks from our Market Mall neighborhood will gather to celebrate the launch of this year's campaign. You are welcome to join us for some hot chocolate and treats courtesy of Smitty's. Coles will have a display of some examples of gifts we'll be purchasing for long term care residents this year. Our one and only Be a Santa to a Senior Christmas tree will be there; the ornaments will have our website on them - the simplest way to DONATE OR REGISTER online.



BASTAS Green Background-07-01.pngHello Saskatoon!!!

Are you ready for Be A Santa To A Senior 2018?

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 Annual Be a Santa to a Senior® program.  Sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care®, the program brings together Saskatoon's corporate employers, nonprofits, retailers, elementary schools, and community volunteers to provide 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 in Saskatoon. "Many seniors living in care homes have very few visitors. Our Santa initiative brings holiday cheer to those who need it most."

This year we aim to provide a personal visit and deliver more than 1,000 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 delivery parties to 15 care homes.

For those who have participated in the past, you will see a change this year.  The 2018 program is simplified to keep our focus on meaningful visits with recipients as we know that our seniors cherish the gift of our time and attention.  Each senior will receive a few simple gifts which will be purchased in advance by program volunteers.

In previous years care home staff helped us by providing specific gift ideas for each resident and the public fulfilled those requests with incredible thoughtfulness and generosity!  The massive endeavor of organizing and wrapping 1200 specific and detailed gifts to over 15 care homes was pulled off by our workshop volunteers but is unsustainable for the future of the program.  Thus the change.

Thank you for your generosity and support and 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 $50,000 by December 6th.

  2. Register your elementary school classroom to make cards.  We need 15 classrooms.  These book up fast!  To register your classroom, contact

  3. Register to attend a delivery and offer the gift of your time to visit with a senior

Groups are welcome!

  • Families
  • Employee /Co-workers
  • Team, Bands, Choirs
  • Community Groups, Classes
  • Classrooms of Children (ONLY with one adult per child supervision – no exceptions)

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.

Thursday Dec 13           Morning 10 – 12;   Afternoon 2 – 4pm

Friday Dec 14               Morning 10 – 12;   Afternoon 2 – 4pm

Monday Dec 17             Morning 10 – 12;   Afternoon 2 – 4pm

Tuesday Dec 18             Morning 10 – 12;   Afternoon 2 – 4pm

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.    


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To 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

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