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:



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.