Be a Santa to a Senior program provides holiday gifts for isolated and deserving seniors in Toronto

by Ontario Communications
Categories: Divisional News

Be a Santa to a Senior program provides holiday gifts for isolated and deserving seniors in Toronto

Home Instead Senior Care is launching its seventh annual Be a Santa to a Senior program, which collects and distributes holiday gifts for thousands of isolated and lonely seniors throughout the city. The event will be held on Thursday November 17, at 11:00 a.m. at the Salvation Army’s Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor, Meighen Health Centre.

This year, the Home Instead Senior Care network, which is the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for seniors and has 30 locations across Canada, hopes to collect and distribute gifts to more seniors than ever before.

Home Instead Senior Care makes Be a Santa to a Senior a reality by partnering with local non-profit agencies, retailers, companies and volunteers in the community.

The program has attracted upwards of 65,000 volunteers during the past seven years, distributing 1.5 million gifts to more than 750,000 deserving seniors throughout North America.

“Many older adults continue to struggle to keep up as the cost of living continues to rise,” said Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto, “particularly those who live alone with no family nearby to help provide resources.” According to the 2006 census, nearly 1.8 million Canadian seniors aged 75 and up were living alone.

Be a Santa to a Senior isn’t only about gifts. The program is designed to give back to deserving seniors, as well as help stimulate human contact and social interaction for older adults who are unlikely to have guests during the holidays.

Here is how the program works: Before the holiday season, participating non-profit organizations in local communities will identify isolated and deserving seniors and provide those names to the local Home Instead Senior Care office at 21 Belmont St. Christmas trees will go up in participating retailer stores, community partners’ offices and other locations that feature Be a Santa to a Senior paper ornaments with only the first names of the seniors, and their gift requests.

Holiday shoppers can pick up these ornaments at a participating location, purchase the item(s) on the senior’s wish list written on the ornament and return the gifts unwrapped to the tree location with the ornament attached.

The program runs from November 17 through December 15. Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Visit the website Enter your postal code to find the location of a participating store.
  2. Remove an ornament, which has a gift idea printed on the back, from the Christmas tree in the store.
  3. Purchase a gift.
  4. Give both the unwrapped gift and ornament back to a representative at the participating location.

Home Instead Senior Care will host a gift-wrapping party once all the gifts have been collected involving its staff and volunteers from the community who will prepare gifts for delivery to seniors.

Be a Santa to a Senior is a way to show our gratitude to an important segment of our community who have contributed so much throughout the years,” said Mahony. “We hope to bring gestures of holiday cheer and goodwill to more seniors this year.”

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering to help with the gift-wrapping, contact Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096.  For tree locations in your area, or for more information about the program, visit

Ten Popular and Economical Gifts for Seniors

1.                  Blankets or Throws
2.                  Slippers and Socks
3.                  Toiletries such as Lotions, Bath Soaps, Toothpaste and Cologne
4.                  Pajamas, Nightgowns and Robes
5.                  Food baskets, Sugar-Free Candy and Dark Chocolate
6.                  Kitchen and Bath Towels
7.                  Clothes such as Sweat Pants, Sweaters and Underwear
8.                  Pet Food
9.                  Paper Products such as Paper Towels and Tissues
10.                Gift Certificates for groceries or companionship services.