Janet Kellar brings Christmas cheer to home
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 — Jennifer Neutel
Streamway Villa staff feel it was the best Christmas gift-giving festivities yet for the home’s 59 residents, in large part thanks to the work of an unexpected “Santa.”
Janet Kellar, a Mary Kay consultant, contacted the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen at the beginning of November saying she’d like to provide gifts for the residents. Kellar had no previous connection to the home.
Kellar says she decided to contact Streamway to take part in Mary Kay’s Adopt a Grandparent Program, which is a way to get out into the community and meet people in the Cobourg area. She picked Streamway Villa as she thought some residents may not have family close by or be able to leave during the holidays.
“I thought anything to lighten their day, brighten their eyes, get the excited because that’s what it’s all about,” says Kellar.
She visited 160 local businesses and asked for their support of $20 towards a resident’s gift. Some businesses who declined said they may be interested in future years if they receive the request earlier.
Of those that took part, some provided the donation through the business while others made a personal donation.
On Dec. 23, Kellar and her husband delivered the basket-wrapped gifts to Streamway Villa. Each basket included a Mary Kay product as well as different items such as mugs, socks, deodorant, candy and razors.
In addition, the home received gift certificates for residents to attend a movie at the local Northumberland Mall Theatres and a $25 gift card to grocery store Metro, which was used to purchase treats for a New Year’s Eve celebration. No Frills donated boxes of President’s Choice cookies.
Verleysen says Kellar’s contribution was unbelievable and heart-warming.
“I’ve never encountered anything like this before,” she says.
On Christmas morning, each resident had at least two gifts to open. Staff members picked about 45 resident names off a list in the staff room to purchase gifts for, and local company Limpact provides gifts for 10-15 residents each year.
Verleysen matched Kellar’s gift baskets to residents. One resident who enjoys taking baths was given a fall mat for the bath tub, which “she loved.”
Two residents dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus called out the gifts and who donated the gift. Many staff took video and photos as they saw the “joy and excitement” on the residents’ faces, says Verleysen.
Kellar says that though the project took a lot of time, seeing the gratitude of Verleysen and knowing the appreciation made it worthwhile.
“You don’t even think about the time and the effort because that’s what it is about — is helping other people,” Kellar tells the OMNIway, noting she wishes she could have been a fly on the wall on Christmas morning to see the residents’ reactions.
“It was quite a rewarding effort, I felt really good about taking those gifts down for all of the seniors,” she adds.
This year, Kellar hopes to start asking businesses to get involved earlier and be able to provide gifts for all Streamway Villa residents.
Verleysen would like to extend her thanks to Kellar, Limpact and the following businesses who took part in the Adopt a Grandparent program: Northumberland Mall Theatres, Metro, Medigas, No Frills, a gallery in Cobourg, Marlin Travel, Lawn Care, Frenchies Deli, United TV Stereo, Stanley’s Fish and Chips, Gypsy Cece Tattoo, Serenity Day Spa, Rental City, Party Lines, Soula’s Tea Garden, Tugg’s Furniture Gallery, Jim’s Pizza Palace, Kelly’s Homelike Inn, House of Attitudes, Insurance Services, Erika Sorensen, Pizza Pizza, All Creatures Great and Small, The UPS Store, TNS Health Food, Lucinda, and MacCoubrey Funeral Home.
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