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Stocking stuffers bring holiday cheer to elderly

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:34 PST, Mon November 16, 2020

London Drugs’ popular Stocking Stuffers for Seniors holiday donation drive, which provided gifts to more than 20,000 seniors across Western Canada in 2019, is back.

The simple gesture of giving a gift could mean the world to thousands of seniors who are seeing increased isolation this holiday season due to COVID-19 protective protocols. Supporters can visit their local London Drugs between now and Dec. 16 to choose a tag from the tree that contains the wish list, or everyday essentials, of a local senior. The gifts are then safely delivered to the seniors before Christmas.

To ensure the utmost safety for seniors, staff and volunteers of the program this year, each London Drugs location is working with their program partner(s) and elder care experts to ensure the program meets their specific safety requirements for the safe collection and transfer of gifts that will be delivered to the seniors by approved personnel and volunteers.

“2020 has been a challenging and difficult year for many of us, but it’s especially affected our elderly Canadian population,” said Clint Mahlman, president and chief operating officer of London Drugs. “We all know the effects of isolation and loneliness on our seniors have been significant during the pandemic, and the goal of the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program is to show our seniors we care, we are thinking of them, and we are here for them—even if we can’t be there for them in person this year.”

Each London Drugs will have information posted next to the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors tree with information on how the participating care homes will be managing the gifts to keep their seniors safe. In many instances, donated gifts will be isolated for 72 hours prior to internal distribution to the seniors.

“This year, it’s more important than ever to show seniors that they are not alone,” said Jimmy Morrison, community relations supervisor of the Operation Friendship Seniors Society. “Just the act of receiving a gift helps to significantly improve the spirits of a senior and can have lasting mental and physical health benefits.”

Morrison says that they are relying heavily on Canadians to support their seniors with many annual programs being cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

“Our number one priority is protecting our seniors, as they are in the higher-risk age group, however because many already isolated seniors are being asked to stay home, or may not have loved ones able to visit them for months, they need additional support getting essentials such as food, warmth items or toiletries,” says Morrison. “The Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program is significant to us, and all the participating senior organizations, because it helps us safely deliver these generous gifts while boosting an individual’s mental health by letting them know someone cares about them—even if it’s from a stranger.

Morrison says when seniors are lonely or isolated, it can significantly compromise their mental or physical health. When they receive a gift at Christmas, it reminds them that someone out there cares about them.

Since the campaign started, approximately 44,000 packages have been delivered to seniors.

Popular gifts for seniors include:

• books or magazines

• blankets and throws

• kitchen essentials

• candy or chocolate

• board games or puzzles

• slippers or warm socks

• toilet paper, paper towels, or tissues

• warm clothing like gloves and scarves

• travel mugs

• gift cards for groceries and toiletries

Stocking Stuffers for Seniors participants and campaign supporters are also asked to use the #StockingStuffersForSeniors hashtag on social media to encourage others to get involved so more elderly Canadians can be supported at the holidays, as well as year-round.

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