For the fifth consecutive year a Christmas tree in support of seniors at the Bethany Care Centre has arisen at Shopper’s Drug Mart in downtown Sylvan Lake.
The Yuletide tradition sees a volunteer group known as Friends of Bethany erecting a tree filled full of 61 tags with the wishlists of seniors attached to them.
Connie Cartwright, a volunteer involved with the tree, explained the idea behind the tree came a number of years ago following cuts to the Centre’s funding forcing them to no longer be able to purchase presents for all residents to open on Christmas morning.
That fateful year Bethany took to the community to ask for support and the time that has passed since has blown the volunteers away according to Cartwright.
“Last year the tags went quickly – every year they seem to go faster and faster because I think the program is starting to get more estabilished,” said Cartwright.
“People quite enjoy purchasing the gifts for seniors because they know they appreciate the gifts,”
“It’s something different than other Christmas time gift programs the joy it brings is immeasurable – it really allows people to bring back the Christmas spirit in theirlives – I’ve heard so many people say they don’t have grandparents to buy for anymore so it has really touched home for people in that sense.”
The program asks shoppers to take a tag off the tree which contains the wishlist of a resident. Often times the items are as simple as new socks, magazines, a warm vest to wear or even new books to read.
“There are some residents at Bethany who really just don’t have a tonne of family around,” explained Cartwright. “Others have lots but aren’t able to go and see them, sowe really just want to make sure everyone has a gift to open alongside one another on Christmas morning.”
“We have just truly been overwhelmed by the response from the community year after year – to watch this program grow over the years has just been amazing and wetruly thank Sylvan Lake for making this program possible.”
“The need is continued and it just makes you feel good to put a present under the tree of someone who wouldn’t get one otherwise.”
Friends of Bethany ask those wishing to purchase a gift for a resident and ‘sponsor a grandparent’ to stop by Shopper’s Drug Mart and grab a tag off of the tree. Giftsmay either be returned to Shopper’s Drug Mart along with the tag or ideally dropped off at Bethany itself along with the tag also.