December 3, 2018 9:00 pm
Updated: December 4, 2018 12:21 am

Volunteers sort Christmas gifts for 5,100 isolated Calgary seniors

Volunteers sorted Christmas gifts for 5,100 isolated Calgary seniors on Dec. 1.

Michael King/Global News
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Santa’s elves helped sort Christmas gifts over the weekend for seniors in Calgary who may be socially isolated.

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Those 200 Seniors Secret Service volunteers buzzed through a northeast warehouse Dec. 1, piling up presents and checking them twice.

Gifts purchased by volunteer secret Santas for 5,100 seniors — people over 60 who don’t have family or a support network — were processed at the 33rd annual sorting event.

“A lot of people take it on as they would buying for a family member or friend and they want to find the best thing, the most creative way to do it, the most personal touches — which is so nice because for a lot of our seniors, this is maybe the only thing they’ll receive this year,” said volunteer Lindsay Reekie.

“To be able to make a little bit of a difference and know that someone might have a brightened day because of you is pretty special.”

Volunteers sorted Christmas gifts for 5,100 isolated Calgary seniors on Dec. 1.

Michael King/Global News

Volunteers were given profiles of seniors to buy gifts that usually consist of clothing, toiletries, pet food and puzzle books. Unique items on the wish list have included a pool cue for an 84-year-old woman who took up billiards and KFC gift cards for a 102-year-old woman who had a taste for finger lickin’ chicken.

Human connection

Seniors Secret Service works with 135 agencies and care homes in Calgary that provide the lists of seniors.

“It’s such a fantastic feeling for everybody involved: for the staff of care homes, for the volunteers, for the seniors,” said Andrea Brumwell, executive director of Seniors Secret Service.

“Being lonely is horrible. Being lonely at Christmas is even worse.

“This way, we’re able to show people that we still know they’re there and that a complete stranger will take their time and money to prove to them that they’re cared about.

“It’s about the human connection. It’s about being able to still feel a part of the community.”

Volunteers sorted Christmas gifts for 5,100 isolated Calgary seniors on Dec. 1.

Michael King/Global News

Donation matching

Now that sorting is done, the gifts will be sent to the agencies for delivery before or on Christmas Eve.

Though no longer accepting presents, the organization is still accepting monetary donations.

And with a long-term donor offering to match any cash donations — up to $50,000 — made until the end of December, the giving season is amped up.

“For a small organization like ours, that is a life-changing amount of money,” Brumwell said, adding that they don’t receive government funding.

Volunteers sorted Christmas gifts for 5,100 isolated Calgary seniors on Dec. 1.

Michael King/Global News

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