BY KALISHA MENDONSA
All seniors residing within the Lacombe long-term care facility at the hospital will be receiving a thoughtful surprise for Christmas this year.
Through an extremely successful Adopt-A-Grandparent program, all seniors within the facility have been ‘adopted’ by citizens, who shopped for nearly 80 seniors and to bring them a bit of Christmas joy.
Brandy Forgeron stepped up to lead this program a number of years ago, and said it’s a great feeling to know that the seniors will have something to open up for Christmas.
“My friend’s grandmother was in the facility and spent her final days there. It was around Christmastime and we realized that there could have been more done for the residents at that time. The hospital does an amazing job with what they can, put up a huge tree and try to make it more festive, but they can only do so much,” Forgeron explained.
“There are a lot of us in the community who like to do these things, and it’s pretty fantastic to see what we’ve gotten.”
People from around Lacombe brought in donations of goods such as socks, sweets, cards, blankets and more, combined with many cash donations to fill up the bags.
As well, local vendor Michelle Claire of Helping Stitches raised proceeds through her knitted specialty touques to raise money for the program. Her contribution alone helped to adopt approximately 10 grandparents.
“As of last week, there was a total of 38 grandmothers and 42 grandfathers, and every year we have about 90 grandparents who are included in our program. They love being adopted by the community and we hope to continue to do this,” Forgeron said.
“Eventually we’d like to branch out and ‘adopt’ some foster kids in our neighbourhood through the program as well.”
Santa will be joining Forgeron’s crew to help deliver the many gifts to the care society on Thursday.
“When this program started, we flew by the seat of our pants. We didn’t know what was acceptable and what wasn’t and shoved candies and cookies and everything else we thought would be good ideas, but honestly weren’t what they wanted or needed,” Forgeron said, having seen the beginning of the program through three extremely successful years.
“We’ve slowly adapted each year, based on the reactions of the residents. We learn what they like the most by watching Santa hand out the gifts and seeing (the seniors’) faces light up,” Forgeron said.
She said some of the most-loved items by residents are crayons, pens and pencils, crossword books and other fun things they can do to pass the time.
“I turn into a big crying mess every year,” Forgeron said with a laugh.
“It is a lot to take on, but it’s so worth it.”
She said her family thoroughly enjoys getting involved, building their own family up through the community and kind actions.