The popular Santa to a Senior initiative is back at Timeless Harmony Salon and Spa and this year it has expanded to support not one but two Newmarket long- term care homes.
For five years, salon owner Katie Gilligan has been organizing the initiative that allows members of the community to buy Christmas presents for the 70 residents at Eagle Terrace in Newmarket.
“It’s all about giving a little bit of a joy to a senior,” she said.
She gets wish lists for each of the seniors and writes them along with the resident's name on an ornament, which is placed on the Christmas tree at Timeless Harmony.
She said this year all one man wanted was toothpaste and when asked about it, he said the thought that someone would get him anything, even just toothpaste, was so heart warming.
"You just bring so much brightness to somebody’s life by doing this,” she said.
Last year, the program was so popular that all of the names were claimed within just a couple of days of it starting.
“It’s so amazing to see the community come together like that because they just get so excited,” Gilligan said.
With so many people wanting to give a gift to a senior, she has expanded her initiative to a second long-term care home, Mackenzie Place, so there are more names and more seniors to provide gifts.
Usually, with all the presents collected even for one home, the salon's seating area was already overflowing to the point where people couldn't walk. Gilligan has partnered with Newmarket's Eco Guardian this year to help store presents before they are delivered.
There are more than 100 names this year but Gilligan said people should come in as soon as possible to pick up an ornament if they want to take part, as they will still go quickly. She said she was getting phone calls from people six weeks ago wondering if she was doing the Santa to a Senior program again.
The wrapped presents must be dropped off at the salon by Dec. 15, along with the original ornament for sorting purposes. Gilligan and her team will then deliver the gifts to Eagle Terrace and Mackenzie Place both on Dec. 21.