Thousands of gifts were delivered to some seniors homes in Edmonton Thursday, as part of the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors campaign.
For the past month, seniors from various facilities around the city filled out wishlist tags that were then made available on trees inside London Drugs stores.
There, shoppers would grab a tag, purchase the items and bring them back to the store.
The program started in 2015, with the hope of helping 40 seniors living at inner-city facilities run by Operation Friendship Seniors’ Society.
It has grown tremendously: in 2017, Stocking Stuffers for Seniors expanded beyond Edmonton to all London Drugs stores in Canada, providing gifts for tens of thousands of seniors.
Jimmy Morrison with the society said delivery day began at 7 a.m., when volunteers gathered at the Unity Square store in central Edmonton to load up the gifts.
“This has been a three-month process to get to where we are today.”
A Christmas convoy departed the store a few hours later and deliveries were made across the city, including at Sparling Lodge and Hutton Place — two facilities run by Operation Friendship Seniors’ Society in central Edmonton’s McCauley neighbourhood.
“A lot of these seniors are low-income seniors — ones with mental illnesses, drug addiction, alcohol issues that wouldn’t get a gift at Christmas,” Morrison said. “So the best part of this campaign is that they know someone cares about them when they get that gift.
“It’s just so amazing to see the smiles on the faces.”
Senior Bob White asked for some books and received a James Patterson novel.
“It’s a brand new book so I won’t have read it before!” he exclaimed.
The delivery day was also a chance to hold a social event at the seniors facility, complete with a Christmas DJ, hot chocolate and cookies.
“Our place doesn’t have a lot of visitors so we are happy to have them, and the spirit of joy and festivities. Especially around Christmas,” White said.
Morrison said most seniors don’t ask for extravagant gifts — in fact, new slippers are often one of the most-requested gifts: “Basic necessity items that maybe me or you take for granted.”
Senior Debbie Booth said she didn’t really ask for anything special —even though her birthday is also next week — but she received dish soap, which she said she actually needed.
“I’m really humbled — it made me cry.”
It isn’t just about nice gifts and essential items: companionship is also sought.
“I remember a year two of this campaign, we came to do the wish list and one lady asked for a friend,” Morrison said. “We were able to connect her with a customer that visited her on a regular basis for a coffee date once a month, which was really cool that year.”
Stocking Stuffers for Seniors served over 4,200 seniors in the Edmonton region in 2022.