By Matthew Liebenberg
A Christmas gift program will create a sense of connection between seniors and community members in the Swift Current area during this festive season.
The 2022 Adopt a Senior for the Christmas Holidays program is looking for generous community members to participate in this unique initiative to buy gifts for seniors.
Over 600 seniors have signed up for this year’s program and the goal is to provide all of them with gifts from their wish lists. Tracy Barton from Fresh Start Inc. in Swift Current coordinates the program.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has already come forward to adopt a senior,” she said. “We already received quite a number of phone calls, people enquiring, and people wanting to adopt seniors.”
Fresh Start Inc., a non-profit community organization in Swift Current, took over the administration of Adopt a Senior for the Christmas Holidays after the founder of the initiative relocated from the city.
Former Swift Current resident Kathy Jennings started the program in 2020 due to her concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on seniors, because it made it more difficult for them to connect with family during the holiday period.
The program provided gift bags to 566 seniors in 2020 and she continued the initiative in 2021, when 678 seniors in Swift Current, Herbert, Gull Lake and Cabri received gifts. Fresh Start decided to carry on this annual event as a means to support seniors during the festive season.
“We are aware that many seniors within the community can often struggle with loneliness and isolation, and what a better way to support the well-being of our seniors,” Barton said. “We had discovered that the founder of the Adopt a Senior for Christmas program, Kathy Jennings, has relocated and would no longer be in town to coordinate. So we reached out to Kathy and she passed on the reigns to us.”
Fresh Start is focusing on care homes and independent senior living homes to implement the Adopt a Senior program in 2022.
“This is our initial year,” Barton noted. “What we have decided to do is reach out to the care homes within Swift Current and surrounding area as well as some of the independent living seniors complexes. We’ve partnered with those organizations and we’ve provided them with a wish list for each senior to complete. Then they have returned the wish list to us.”
Community members who want to participate in this initiative can contact the Fresh Start office at 306-773-8168 to adopt a senior.
“We provide them with a senior’s name and wish list that they’ll fulfill,” she explained. “We’re asking that once the gifts are purchased, they are returned to Fresh Start in a gift bag along with an unopened package of tissue paper. Community members are more that welcome to include a personalized gift card if they so choose.”
The gift requests on the wish lists of seniors are modest and vary from a request for new sweaters or a new pair of pyjamas to some favourite Christmas treats such as chocolate or candy.
The deadline for returning gifts is Dec. 14. Gifts can be dropped off at the Fresh Start office, which is located at 214 1st Ave. NE in downtown Swift Current, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We take care of the rest,” she said. “All they need to do is bring their gifts along with a gift bag and tissue paper.”
The delivery of the gifts to seniors will take place on Dec. 19 and 20 with assistance from several local businesses.
“We want to say a heartfelt thank you to Voth’s BrandSource, A.M. Delivery, Jay’s Moving as well as Todd’s Moving,” she mentioned. “They have all volunteered their time to assist us with delivering gifts to the care homes.”
Details and updates for this program are available on the Facebook page Adopt a Senior for the Christmas Holidays Swift Current & Area.