Metro Creative photo

Metro Creative photo

Organization aims to brighten the season for local seniors

Folks with the Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors organization aim to brighten the Christmas season for local seniors.

This year marks their second year in Lacombe, explained Cheryl DeMaere-Ellis, southern Alberta area manager for the Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Association (CAN) that organizes the Annual Seniors List Program.

“We have 77 (local) seniors in need this year, so we connect with local community members to sponsor local seniors at Christmas,” she said.

Essentially, connections are formed via social media (Annual Seniors Wish List Program on Facebook).

This is primarily where the needs are identified and potential sources of gifts and donations are discovered.

This is also a key way to reach DeMaere-Ellis if anyone has questions about how to help out. She said she’s also listed with the Facebook group ‘Lacombe & Area Community Info & Watch’ for those who may wish to connect with her that way about donating or helping out in some way.

They can also reach her by phone at 780-982-6922.

“That is how we get the word out. We will say, ‘Your area rep is so-and-so, please private message them’. We tell them what we are all about, and they will then let us know who they want to provide gifts for. It’s definitely a feel-good story!”

And it’s not just about helping out at Christmastime.

“We also have a Valentines for Seniors program where we get schools from the community involved – they will make cards and deliver them to local seniors,” she said.

The Hampers for Seniors program, along with emergency relief for any number of situations, run all year long.

And then there is the Spring into Easter program, where the organization will often arrange for local seniors to receive a plant to help celebrate the spring season as well.

In the meantime, the focus is on helping to make sure local seniors have something special to open on Christmas Day.

“There are a lot of seniors whose families live far away, and they have no one around on Christmas morning,” she said.

“To know that these communities come together and help to put smiles on seniors’ faces – it makes me teary-eyed.

“These seniors are why we are here today – a lot of them are grandmas and papas, moms and dads,” she said, adding that receiving a gift at Christmas can really make a big difference for them.

“Once the community realizes what we are all about, they just step up and take care of their seniors and their town – it is so rewarding,” she said.

Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Association all started when founder Lisa Fibke and her mom arranged Christmas gifts for some 50 seniors in Onoway several years ago.

They had seen the level of need and decided to start spreading the word and making the arrangements to help out.

Communities responded with generous outpourings of support.

“We are now in our sixth year,” said DeMaere-Ellis. “And it’s all about these communities coming together.”

For more information, find them on Facebook at ‘Annual Seniors Wish List Program’.

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