Be a Santa to a Senior this season

Gifts for seniors will be wrapped at Oak Bay’s Shannon Oaks

Vicki Sanders and Marjorie Moulton

The giving season has begun as the volunteers behind the Be a Santa to a Senior program slip into elf mode.

This year is the ninth running of the program, which delivers “Secret Santa” gifts and companionship for lonely and isolated seniors during the holidays.

Be A Santa is organized by “chief executive elf” Peggy Hancyk, loaned to the program from her regular role handling community relations for Victoria Home Instead Senior Care.

“We’re up to 450 (seniors) this year who’ve put in for a present. We really do depend on a regular team of helpers to make it happen,” Hancyk said.

Classes from nearby St. Patrick’s elementary school and Cedar Hill middle school will decorate gift bags. Then, on a mid-December day, Hancyk will assemble a one-day elf factory at the Shannon Oaks senior residence in Oak Bay, where the presents will be wrapped.

The public can participate by picking up an “ornament,” or card, from a Be a Santa to a Senior trees, now up at 11 stores around town. On each tree are a few dozen ornaments with a first name and a desired gift, such as new socks and slippers, or perhaps a small appliance.

Deliveries are fun, and often involve a cup of tea and conversation, which is just as important, said Alistair Hicks, owner of Victoria Home Instead.

“We have a few of us who do it and we only have an address, we’re not the gift buyer, just the deliverer,” he said.

The closest trees for Be a Santa to a Senior can be found at Forbes Pharmacies at 1775 Fort St., Progressive Chiropractic at 1595 McKenzie Ave., the Heart Pharmacy at 3643 Shelbourne St., MLA Lana Popham’s office at 4085 Quadra St., and the London Drugs at 911 Yates St. and Saanich Centre (Quadra and McKenzie).

For more information visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com.