Shannon Oaks team of elves cover Christmas

Wrapping party in Oak Bay helps seniors be a Santa

Resident Dorothy Evans wraps gifts at Shannon Oaks retirement village for the Home Instead Senior Care program

Resident Dorothy Evans wraps gifts at Shannon Oaks retirement village for the Home Instead Senior Care program

Gifts pile on chairs and floors, more are tucked in boxes, and bags and bows adorn table tops at Shannon Oaks retirement village in Oak Bay.

Here, Santa’s elves are busy putting the wrap on Christmas.

Peggy Hancyk, chief executive elf at Home Instead Senior Care, bustles around the room making sure all tags are accounted for, gifts are lumped together and everyone has basics: tape, ribbons, paper and scissors.

Louise Rose is expected on the piano any minute, but holiday classics fill the air thanks to charter resident Darlaine Bagshaw, a regular pianist at the residence.

The atmosphere is the norm for the annual Be a Santa to a Senior wrapping party in Oak Bay.

Home Instead Senior Care partners with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts for Christmas.

Hancyk works with local businesses and stores to purchase and distribute gifts. Some are purchased through donations, some by kind souls who take a senior’s gift request written on a Be a Santa to a Senior tree ornament.

“It’s a way for seniors to help other seniors,” says Hancyk, adding it’s the 11th year of the program in Greater Victoria.

“We contact agencies and facilities in the city, sometimes people call us about a neighbour or a friend that is isolated or disadvantaged,” she said.

“They tell us the size and what they might need. Many have no family, nobody to supply them with things … I put that information on ornaments and hang them on trees in different places.”

The trees show up in Walmart, the Quadra Street London Drugs and the Tillicum Save on Foods. It’s not unusual for requests to include food or pharmacy gift cards.

“Shoppers can pick one up or two (ornaments) and I’ll have several (gift) suggestions on there.

Some people will buy them all and some will buy one. Then I collect them all again,” said the head elf. “Every year Shannon Oaks has the wrapping party, we have a lovely afternoon. A lot of people love to volunteer.”

Following the frenzied afternoon of gift wrapping, Santa’s helpers deliver the packages to individuals, organizations and care facilities.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to do. You get to touch base with them every year, and it makes it more personal,” Hancyk said. “There’s something about being anonymous and cheerful and saying ‘this is for you’.”

For more information visit beasantatoasenior.com.