Leanne Hawes, left, vice-president of operations for the Lloydminster & District Co-op and Kristine Knourek, marketing and communications manager helped launch the Co-op’s third annual Spread a Little Love this Christmas campaign. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
Santa continues to subcontract Christmas wishes from area seniors to the Lloydminster & District Co-op’s Spread a Little Love this Christmas campaign.
The aim of the annual charity program is to deliver Christmas gifts from generous regional residents to more than 600 seniors in 13 continuing-care facilities in six communities prior to Christmas Day.
That’s too much, too soon for Santa to handle on his own.
The third annual campaign launch took place on Nov. 14 at the Lloydminster Co-op Marketplace, and will run until Dec. 1 with all gifts delivered to participating senior centres before Dec. 25.
Lloydminster Co-op CEO Don Stephenson says based on the history of the Christmas campaign, all of the seniors’ requests should be filled within the first four or five days.
“We’ve gone through some tough economic times in Lloydminster and surrounding areas and for people to step up and support the seniors in our community, I think just speaks volumes of the communities we live in today,” said Stephenson.
He said seniors are the ones who built these communities.
“Having a chance to recognize their efforts —I think this is just a great initiative,” said Stephenson.
The campaign encourages Co-op members, customers and residents to drop by the Lloyd Co-op Marketplace or the Neilburg Co-op grocery store and select a senior’s wish ornament from a Christmas tree.
Then, it’s just a matter of buying the gift and returning it to the same store for wrapping and delivery.
One of the ornaments Stephenson held in his hand was from a senior named Leo who was asking for socks or shampoo or conditioner.
“They are not asking for much,” he said, adding he wouldn’t be surprised if the gift bag for Leo also had socks and shampoo and conditioner in it.
Stephenson said it’s young families with children who often pick out ornaments for the Spread a Little Love this Christmas drive.
“I think it does embody what Christmas is supposed to be about, which is the idea of giving, not with some idea of a reciprocal receipt of a gift in-kind,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity for families to step up with their kids and say this is what it’s supposed to be about.”
He said children have stepped up and have drawn pictures and put Christmas greetings in with their gifts.
“So it is pretty heartwarming for a senior to get a couple of hand drawn Christmas cards and it means a lot to them,” he said.
Dr. Lyle Grant, director of continuing care for Prairie North Health Region said generally the reaction of seniors receiving a gift is one of joy which connects them to the community.
“It reminds them that they are connected to their community —they recognize that individuals in the community have gone out and done something special for them,” he said.
The simplicity of the gift requests such as chocolates and cookies, bath lotion or just plain socks from a senior like Leo is what pulls the heartstrings.
“It’s about the thinking and the thought—and the simple gifts are often the most meaningful for people,” said Grant.
He said seniors don’t have a lot of need for lots of things anymore.
Supported centres in the Border City include Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre, Dr. Hemstock, Hearthstone Place, Jubilee Home and Lloydminster Continuing Care.
Gifts also go to regional seniors in Manitou Housing (Neilburg), Southview Manor (Marsden), Paradise Hill Care Home, Pine Island Lodge (Maidstone), Pioneer Lodge and Pioneer House, Points West Living, and Tighnduin Home (Lashburn).