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West Parry Sound District Community Support Services to keep Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign going all year long

The West Parry Sound District Community Support Services (CSS) “Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign” will be sticking around all year long as part of the CSS’ Circle of Care program.

Linda Taylor, CSS Program Director, says the Be a Santa for a Senior Campaign, over the last six weeks or so, has gone over really well in the community.

Image provided by West Parry Sound District Community Support Services

“We’re starting to send out our packages to seniors but moving forward with the Circle of Care, and it’s all connected because we care for the people all year round. So we are still sending out some gifts to some individuals over Christmas, but we will also be checking in with them all year round and that’s where Carol Marshall comes in with wellness calls and checks, connecting with people throughout the year” she says.

Carol Marshall, CSS Wellness Coordinator, says the service is calling it Be a Santa to a Senior all year long.

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“Rather than just sharing kindness at this holiday time which is wonderful, the need has been demonstrated to us, particularly through COVID, and during some home visits, that some people are struggling throughout the year,” she says.

According to Marshall, there are criteria for people to be part of the Circle of Care Program, often times it might be some financial issues and social isolation. She says CSS often gets referrals from the hospital, Friendly Visiting program, and Home and Community Care 

Marshall says part of the change is that CSS is now trying to bring more awareness of its services to the people that really see those who may be in need. 

“Sometimes someone coming through the nursing stations, or our volunteer drivers who are driving people home, might see that this person has a far greater need than receiving a special gift on Christmas, which is wonderful, but then they might need something throughout the year,” she says.

Marshall says sometimes the people in need are the quietest people. “They don’t really ask for anything but when you do a home visit and get to know somebody then you realize that maybe they need a little extra care,” she says.

Marshall says the Circle of Care will also serve to connect CSS with other agencies in the community.

She says it could be something as small as bringing over a coffee or just taking a walk with a senior, adding that the Circle of Care is person-centred and is unique to each person and their needs. Marshall says CSS tried the Circle of Care initiative over the summer, which encouraged them to go forward with the year-long initiative.

Taylor adds that the pandemic definitely raised the concern of people feeling isolated and alone. “We’ve had Lunch’n’learns where people were just so grateful to get together and share a meal and they said basically ‘you know we didn’t even need the meal’, they just were so happy to get together,” she says.

She says with inflation rising and the cost of living going up, the program can help ease some concerns in connecting those who need assistance to the CSS’ Meals on Wheels and transportation programs.

CSS is volunteer-driven, and though Taylor says the service has lots of volunteers, they are beginning to grow with new inquiries coming in, so they can always use more. 

Marshall says the program welcomes anyone who may be interested in sharing their time with a client in the community. Anyone interested can call the Community Support Services office at 705-746-5602 to set up a face-to-face meeting.

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