Like Santa Claus preparing for his annual Christmas Eve trek, clients at the Stars for Life Foundation (STF) in Charlottetown are getting ready for their tour of P.E.I. senior homes.
Kyle Wightman and Patti Bradley, along with others, have been making a list and checking it twice to ensure that seniors receive a personalized Christmas card.
“It’s pretty awesome because we get to spread holiday cheer to everyone,” says Bradley, who believes the service is important.
“Many seniors (in nursing homes) don’t get to celebrate Christmas with their families.”
This year she and her friends have signed over 1,000 cards for all the residents in government manors across P.E.I.
“We’re going tip to tip,” says Ron Casey, executive director of the organization whose mandate is to create a quality of life for young people with autism spectrum disorder by fully including them in the community with a commitment to continued education, life and job skills training and inclusion.
Clients and employees began delivering the cards in Montague, Souris and Charlottetown last week.
Dressed as Santa’s helpers, SFL representatives presented a box of cards to resident Barry Ings.
“It’s very gratifying. It makes me feel like we’re being looked after,” says Ings, who will arrange for the cards to be delivered to the others before Christmas morning.
At the Prince Edward Home, they are greeted by Leo Gallant, vice-president of the residents’ association, who will distribute the cards to the other residents.
He’s moved by this simple act of kindness.
“It’s perfect. It’s great to see people cheered up,” says Gallant.
The Prince Edward Home’s recreation manager also likes what he sees.
“It’s so special to have community members drop in to visit us and provide some Christmas cheer. It makes us feel like we’re an important part of the greater community,” says Jeff Cook.
Receiving the cards starts the Christmas spirit at the home.
“We’ll be seeing lots of smiling people. Hopefully the residents will get many cards this Christmas.”
After visiting the Prince Edward Home, the team headed to the manors in Souris and Montague.
The team also plans to visit senior homes in Summerside, Tyne Valley, O’Leary and Alberton before the tour is finished.
This is the second year that SFL has taken on this Christmas project.
It’s a creative way for the organization’s clients to connect with the larger community.
It’s also good stewardship.
For the past 10 years Stars for Life has been selling Christmas cards as a fundraiser.
“Over the years we’ve had (leftover) cards we didn’t sell,” says Casey.
So last year they took a different tact.
Casey contacted the government for a list of senior homes. Then he contacted the manors to ask if they were interested in taking part of the project. The homes agreed and provided the first name and initial for each resident.
It was such a positive experience SFL expanded the project to include the entire Island.
But they needed the support of clients. To help volunteers get into the holiday spirit they set a Christmas tree up in the board room and played Christmas music as people worked.
“It took us a month to sign all the cards,” says Casey.
But Bradley says it was worth the effort.
“It felt good to spread the holiday cheer to everyone.”
If you go
- What: Stars for Life is a foundation for autism.
- Goal: To safeguard the future of young people with autism by providing continued education, creating workplace opportunities, building supported homes across the Island.
- Information: Go to starsforlife.com or call 902-894-9286