Be Santa to a senior this Christmas season

By: Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto

As published in The Metro

November 21, 2013

As the MLA for Minto, one of my favourite things to do is to visit with seniors.

Whether talking to retirees on the doorstep, chatting with residents of seniors’ apartment complexes or visiting long-term care homes, I always learn something new — or something remembered.

Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to meet with seniors in Arlington Haus, Sunset House, Autumn House, Calvary Place and Betelstadur Housing Co-operative. At these meet-and-greets, I bring the ice cream and the residents bring the conversation. Over dessert, we have the chance to discuss the issues that concern them and topics range from safety to Old Age Security to the condition of the sidewalks. I follow up with provincial departments when necessary and pass on the federal and municipal questions to our MP Pat Martin and Councillor Harvey Smith, respectively.

I am often surprised by how busy these seniors are. I have always believed the adage "if you want to get something done, ask a busy person." That is especially true when speaking with older constituents in Minto. They support churches and seniors’ organizations, they often sit on boards and committees and they always have time to lend a hand to family, neighbours and friends. One of these tireless constituents reminded me of a special project that happens at this time of year.

Earlier this month, Kerri Irvin-Ross, Minister of Family Services, launched the popular Be a Santa to a Senior program. For the fifth year, Home Instead Senior Care network, Victoria General Hospital and Age & Opportunity have partnered with Meals on Wheels and other organizations to provide gifts and companionship to older adults at Christmastime.

The program is designed to spread holiday cheer to older adults in the community who are socially isolated or financially challenged. Participants are asked what it is they need or would like and these wishes are filled through kind donations from the community.

Here’s how you can help: pick up a Be a Santa to a Senior ornament with the first names of seniors and their gift requests from special Christmas trees. In our area, head over to Home Instead Senior Care office at 581 Sargent Ave. starting Tues., Nov. 19. Buy items on the list and return them to the office by Dec. 7 along with the ornaments attached. For more information, contact Home Instead at 204-953-3720.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about provincial programs, feel free to drop by my office or give us a call at 204-783-9860.