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Photos: Community pitches in to 'wrap up' Christmas for local seniors

Home Instead Senior Care hosts a party to wrap the more than 500 donations received this campaign

Elves of all ages gathered at the YMCA Parkside Centre Saturday, to help Home Instead Senior Care wrap the more than 500 items donated to be gifted to local seniors.  

Well-over 50 people showed up to wrap presents, deliver gifts to drop-off locations across Greater Sudbury or host activities for the younger elves in attendance. 

The campaign was introduced in 2009 to give seniors without family and or in poor financial circumstances, some holiday cheer, with a gift selected especially for them. 

In future years, it was decided these gifts would also accompany a handwritten Christmas card from junior and senior kindergarten students in the community.

Recipients are nominated by neighbours, friends or caregivers who either recommend a gift based on their knowledge of the individual or ask the senior to formulate a request. These requests are written on a paper ornament and hung at designated locations across the city for people to take and fulfill. 

At the end of the campaign, gifts are distributed to the long-term care facility, retirement home, or personal residence of the recipient or the individual who nominated them. 

Many of the volunteers involved with the campaign participate year after year, including Ken Hould, who brought his grandson with him for the third time this year and his granddaughter the year prior. 

Ken has been volunteering with the campaign since it was introduced and only around five people were needed to wrap and deliver the 100 gifts collected in its inaugural year. 

He said the decision to participate came after seeing a campaign ornament at Zellers, the motivation though, came much earlier in life. 

Both of Ken's parents were philanthropic in nature, but he said it was time spent volunteering with his father that he thinks of fondly during the holiday season. 
 
Ken said that in his youth, his father would deliver 4-5 boxes of groceries to the women's shelter on Elm Street around both Christmas and Easter. He would purchase the items himself said Ken, taking advantage of as many sales as possible for the month leading up to the big day. 

His father eventually moved into a nursing home, where Ken said the two of them were pained to see seniors without family, friends or gifts during the holiday season. With the same giving spirit as his parents, Ken set out to make a difference in his community, inspiring young watchful eyes along the way. 

"It's something special that I do with my papa," said his grandson Parker Hould, when asked why he chose to participate these past three years. That and it reminds him of his great-grandpa. 

Parker said the experience has inspired him to think of others year-round and volunteer in other campaigns, such as a similar gift-giving program held for children through ToysRus. 

He said it is something he looks forward to when Christmas comes around, almost as much as his own presents. 

While proud of the impact her team has made, Lisette Wirta, who is the program coordinator and owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Sudbury and the North, said it is the community that is responsible for the campaign's continued success.

It's growth inspired Home Instead Senior Care to host a similar campaign in North Bay this year she said, with plans to expand further in the not so distant future. The city will be hosting it's wrapping party Dec. 20. 

"People in this city, this community, are so giving. Sudbury, is actually the coolest place in the world," said Wirta. 

"I never imagined that (the campaign) would turn into this. It's become this big and this popular because of Sudbury -- it's not me, it's you guys."

Find more information on the campaign here


Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada, at Sudbury.com.
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