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Monday, April 22, 2024
Christmas stockings for seniors project a heart-warming success

Community's generosity ensures every resident of NOTL long-term care homes receives gifts and cards


A simple idea to provide Christmas stockings for the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s long-term care facilities was met with “overwhelming” support.

And Joan King says she was “blown away” by how quickly the community stepped up to pitch in.

“It’s just a simple thing. We put these messages out and this is how great the community is: they just jumped on board to do everything. It’s amazing,” she said.

King said she was inspired by a similar project she participates in Niagara Falls and thought the concept would be appropriate in NOTL.

She put the call out for donations on her personal Facebook page and a couple of local groups on Nov. 19, and she said she was surprised by the fast responses.

Within a day she said she had more than 140 people reach out and offer to help in some way. Now, she has enough donations to provide a stocking to each resident in the three long-term care facilities in town.

“What I thought was that this time of the year, especially because of COVID, it’s a lonely time for a lot of people, and especially these seniors. Visitation is probably so limited and maybe family members can’t even get there, and maybe some people don’t even have family members,” she said.

With Christmas coming, she said she asked what could be done in the community to help perk up the residents or make them smile.

“It’s just a simple ask: fill a Christmas stocking with a few items and we’ll have them delivered to the homes in time for Christmas,” she said.

As well as the generous response from people in the community, she said NOTL Community Palliative Care volunteers have knitted hearts, which will be included in each stocking with small sanitizer bottles.

The Town of NOTL has also offered to include the cards from its Christmas card contest this year in each stocking, she said.

“They (the town) were going to give one to each member of the retirement homes. So, they're going to put them in the stocking now,” King said.

“One idea, domino effect. So, now these cards that they were going to send to the retirement homes, instead, we'll just put them all in the stockings. It's a special card made by the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she said.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she “loves this time of year.”

“Anything the town can do to bring a little joy, or even just some recognition that people are out there, thinking about residents of long-term care facilities, I think is a good thing,” Disero said.

King said Lynn Howell of Driverseat Niagara offered to help pick up and deliver the stockings.

“We help many seniors in our community with appointments, outings etc., and have always offered services to help our community free of cost, like shop and drop for seniors and vulnerable citizens of Niagara,” Howell said. “This is our Christmas gift to the amazing cause and initiative.”

King said she has enough donations to supply every resident in NOTL’s long-term care homes and will not be asking for more. If anyone who would still like to contribute to the community this holiday season, she recommends donating to the town’s “Give Back” Christmas program.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., town staff will be at the NOTL Community Centre collecting donations of food, warm clothing and gifts for the Give Back project.

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