Senior Wish Association is celebrating its tenth anniversary in Simcoe County this year – 10 years of reaching out to the community, and to its seniors, to spread joy and cheer.
It started with acts of kindness, to show seniors they are not alone during the holidays, and grew into a movement dedicated to “improving the lives of seniors by having their wishes met by a supporting community.”
You are never too old to have a wish, the organization says.
Senior Wish Association now engages local community members, businesses, volunteers, high school and elementary school students to provide holiday cheer, kind gestures and thoughtful gifts for seniors at retirement residences, nursing homes, and in the community at large.
At Christmas time, donations of new pyjamas, nightgowns, slippers, cuddly stuffed animals, music CDs, and personal hygiene items – anything that can fit in a Christmas stocking - are welcomed, at a number of community drop boxes.
The donations, along with cards hand-made by students and volunteers, are then delivered in time for the holidays. Donors can also opt to participate in the ‘Bag of Love’ adopt-a-senior program, that invites the public to provide a complete holiday package for their adopted senior.
Currently, the Senior Wish Association has about 3,000 seniors on its list, including residents of Simcoe Manor in Beeton, the Barrington in Barrie, and Lakeside Retirement residence in Alcona, Innisfil.
“Each one, we make a card for, and put a nice verse on the inside, so everyone has something to open on Christmas morning,” explained volunteer Sharon Wice, who chairs Senior Wish in Innisfil. “We just want to make sure no-one is forgotten and lonely on Christmas morning."
On Wednesday, Wice and fellow-volunteer Elizabeth Brandon donned their Santa hats and dropped off a special delivery at Lakeside Retirement.
There are currently 89 residents at the residence. Thanks to Senior Wish Association, each one will receive a tube of Aveeno lotion as a small gift, as well as a beautiful card, hand-made by the Nantyr Shores Secondary School art class, that contains a message of hope and best wishes for the holiday season.
There was even a poinsettia for the front desk, to add to the Christmas cheer.
“We’re blessed to have a loving family,” said Wice. “It’s heart-breaking to think that there are seniors that are alone.”
She encouraged any senior who is alone or lonely at this time of year, and who might be cheered by a card or a gift, or any resident who knows of a senior who would appreciate a little cheer, to contact Senior Wish Association on Facebook or by clicking here, calling 705-481-7593 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Wish Association is now active in Barrie, Innisfil, Bradford and York Region, Orillia and Oro-Medonte, Clearview Township, and the Sandycove Acres adult lifestyle community in Innisfil.
In fact, Wice said, the Association is active all year round - also providing cards for birthdays, Get Well cards, Happy Spring greetings, and "just thinking of you."
The Association brings together seniors and teens in its Memory Book program, encouraging seniors to share their life stories, which are then documented and illustrated, in book format.
Senior Wish also gives seniors an opportunity to revisit a favourite place or activity, through the Granting One Last Wish program.
"One gentleman in palliative care wanted to listen to the bagpipes one last time, so we arranged for a piper to stand outside his window and play," Wice said.
Another expressed the wish to walk outside atop the CN Tower. Senior Wish made it happen, and she was "thrilled to bits!"
The goal of Senior Wish Association is simple, Wice summed up: "We do what we can to help our seniors in their sunset years!"