Wednesday July 09, 2014

Secret Santas help low-income seniors

'We managed to find 73. I’m sure there’s hundreds more out there'

Bonnie McBride (left) and a group of Santa’s “elves” prepare to deliver presents to 73 seniors in need Thursday morning. The group met at the Centre for Seniors Information Kamloops.

For the last four Christmases Bonnie McBride and her family have done something nice for someone they don’t know.

They’ve shown up unannounced with donations of books or food at agencies in need, always doing the work ahead of time in secret.

This year, the McBrides decided to help low-income seniors. To do that, they turned to Brenda Prevost and the Centre for Seniors Information (CSI) Kamloops.

“I said ‘Do I have a project for you to help with’,” said Prevost.

The end result is 73 gift-wrapped presents that McBride, CSI staff member Brandi Allen and a group of helper “elves” delivered Thursday.

Allen said CSI had no trouble finding enough seniors who are low income, isolated from the community or have no family to spend the holiday with.

“We managed to find 73. I’m sure there’s hundreds more out there,” said Allen.

McBride and Allen began soliciting for donations two months ago, and collected some $10,000 worth of items for the presents.

A stack of gifts three parcels deep lined a wall at the centre’s Brocklehurst location. Each was hand wrapped by McBride, her family and friends.

Instead of hosting Christmas parties, McBride invited people over to wrap the care packages and attach hand-made cards to each.

“Everybody got all of their necessary toiletries. All of their personal stuff. There’s a couple of pairs of socks, scarves, mitts and toques,” said McBride.

Each person received a mug full of hard candy and packets of coffee and hot chocolate, she said. Fun gifts like jewelry and crafts made by students at Arthur Hatton elementary are also included.

“I was surprised at how much we did,” said McBride, adding she used social media to connect with people and collect items.

Allen said there’s a good six months worth of personal care products in the presents.

McBride said she’s not used to the attention. Her gratitude projects are usually done to quietly give back to the community.

“So we don’t spend money on us. We spend it on others,” she said.

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