Newmarket-Aurora Home Instead co-owner Greg Bechard said he gets a great sense of pride from providing gifts to seniors over the holidays.
The senior care company is running its 19th annual Be a Santa to a Senior, providing gifts to seniors throughout the continent. The Newmarket-Aurora office will be providing gifts to the Southlake Regional Health Centre to distribute to seniors in the hospital.
Bechard said it is an important initiative, especially with loneliness amplified in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is far less about the gift and far more about the fact that somebody remembers, somebody thought about them,” Bechard said. “Some seniors have experienced that always, but the last 20, 21 months have certainly been increasingly more challenging for our seniors and our community.”
Southlake will provide lists of gifts that its seniors want, which Home Instead will gather. Community members themselves can grab an ornament from the Home Instead office to gather gifts for someone and bring them back to wrap. The gifts are often basic necessities like socks and blankets.
“The response to the program is phenomenal. The way the community reaches out, I think we’re pretty fortunate,” Bechard said.
The program is similar to one run by Timeless Harmony Salon and Spa for the Eagle Terrace Long Term Care Home, though Bechard said he is not aware of a partnership there.
The Home Instead program has provided more than two million gifts to over 750,000 seniors in North America over its existence, and attracted upwards of 65,000 volunteers.
This year, the local initiative aims to help an additional 50 seniors in Newmarket area hospitals. Bechard said they have had to scale aspects of the program back due to COVID-19 protocols, but they are carrying it on.
“Things have been difficult for everybody, but in particular, older adults have taken their unfair share of the brunt with COVID-19,” he said. “If people in the community have the means and are available, and can help recognize those older adults, I think that’d be pretty special.
“A small act of kindness can make a big difference,” Bechard further said. “And a heartfelt gift brightens the lives of older adults who may feel alone during the season.”