With Christmas just a few weeks away, you may have already begun seeking out the perfect gift for people close to you, but many Montrealers living in seniors residences don’t have anyone out shopping for them.
This year, a group of West Islanders is looking to change that.
Alana Edwards has brought “gift trees” to the Provigo grocery store on Boulevard St. Jean in Pierrefonds.
They will be the key to bringing joy to elderly people who may not have anyone thinking of them during the holidays.
“There’s a lot of lonely people out there, so why not give a little something back to them?” Edwards said.
She’s partnered with her cousin Chelsea Laplante, who works as recreation director at Les Pavillons LaSalle, a seniors’ residence in Lasalle.
“Not all the residents have family members, so not all of them have someone who could give them a gift,” Laplante told Global News.
The role of Santa can be played by anybody who walks into the store.
Here’s how it works: the seniors have written down what they hope to get for Christmas on a piece of paper, and the notes are each stuck to an ornament.
“They are very simple: socks, underwear, slippers. Things we take for granted, they don’t. It makes their day just to receive them,” said Edwards.
People stop in, grab one of the decorations off the tree and then go purchase the gift.
“They’ll go shopping, bring it back here, and we’ll wrap it and deliver it!” said Edwards.
Within the first few hours it was in place, people were already getting on board.
“This one says doll or stuffed animal, this one it says chocolates,” said Jenny Warren, reading from the two ornaments she had picked.
“I just feel privileged to be able to buy things and give somebody some joy at Christmas time, particularly seniors,” said Fay Brydon, who picked ornaments asking for body wash, writing paper, and pens.
Conveniently, many of the gifts can be found in the Provigo.
“It’s just an extra while you’re out shopping. You can grab an extra chocolate bar someone asked for, or an extra pair of socks you were going to get anyway,” Edwards explained.
The tree started with 200 gift requests, and Edwards is hoping they all get picked up by someone. Even more ornaments are on the way.
“Please come and help, and make the forgotten unforgettable again,” she said.
The cherry on top is that the gifts will all be hand delivered to the seniors by pre-schoolers.
“Whenever the children come, it brightens up their day,” said Laplante.
The gifting trees will be at the Provigo in Pierrefonds until Dec. 20.