LETHBRIDGE — A Lethbridge retirement home is hitching up the sleigh and getting ready to make some Santa-like deliveries this holiday season.

AgeCare Columbia, which operates an assisted-living and supportive-living home in west Lethbridge, is teaming up with London Drugs to organize a Christmas donation drive for lonely or isolated seniors.

Administrator Matejah Kovacs said a lot of people don’t have family or friends in or around Lethbridge.

“It’s super important that they know they are thought about around Christmas time, and that people really do love and admire them.”

The holidays are a time when most expect to connect with family members and friends, so for seniors living alone or who have lost a companion, this time of year can be especially difficult and exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

The two campaigns, Christmas to Remember and Stocking Stuffers for Seniors, help to bring holiday cheer to socially isolated seniors in Lethbridge. With support from local organizations, schools, churches, and volunteers, the joint donation drive aims to surpass the 500 gift donations delivered last year.

“It’s very heartwarming to participate in this campaign to support seniors right here in our community. It shows them they haven’t been forgotten, that someone cares. And that can make all the difference during the holidays,” said Chris Mabie, store manager at London Drugs in Lethbridge.

A Christmas to Remember seniors program

Stocking Stuffers for Seniors originated in the Okanagan, but has grown to include all London Drugs locations. The goal is to help low-income seniors by providing them with simple gifts, such as food, hygiene products or warm clothing.

A Christmas to Remember is a community initiative lead by AgeCare Columbia. Staff in Lethbridge, Brooks and Medicine Hat have delivered thousands of gifts to seniors in need of holiday cheer.

Anyone wishing to support the programs can visit London Drugs or AgeCare Columbia between Nov. 12 and Dec. 16 and select a tag with a senior’s wish list from the tree. From there, shoppers can fulfill the items on the list and bring them back to either location by Dec. 16. The gifts will be wrapped and delivered by volunteers on Dec. 18, just in time for Christmas.

Clarence Hunt, a resident at the AgeCare facility in west Lethbridge, said she believes the campaign is a good idea.

“It’s lonely here at times on holidays, and this gift giving is a wonderful idea.”

Another AgeCare resident, Sandy Polinski, said staff go out of their way to make every occasion special, but she said the program has helped to make the holidays even more memorable, “a lot of seniors don’t have Christmas anymore.”

Polinski said she has family in Calgary and Victoria, who she sees during the summer, but not at Christmas.

Polinski was among the seniors who received a gift last year.

“It meant the world to me. It made my Christmas.”

People can participate in several ways:

  • Register a senior in need, and provide a gift suggestion.
  • Fulfill items on a gift tag, or purchase a gift bag already assembled at London Drugs.
  • Volunteer to sort, wrap and/or deliver gifts at the Wrapping Party Dec. 18.

For more about the programs, visit the A Christmas to Remember website or the London Drugs website.