Looking for Santas to seniors

Preparing for the weekend launch of ‘Santa to a Senior’ are Cambridge Altrusa Club members, from left, Maureen Blackstock, Jenny Shaw, Glenda Little, De-ane Busby and Alison Burr.

A Cambridge Altrusa Club initiative launching this weekend will bring a touch of joy into the lives of some of the town’s lonelier inhabitants.

Be a ‘Santa to a Senior’ will see the club collaborate with an aged care facility and pharmacy to collect gifts for seniors who won’t have family around them at Christmas.

A tree bearing decorative written gift tags will be on display at the Unichem pharmacy in Victoria St from this weekend through to December 20.   The idea, said Altrusa’s Alison Burr, is to spread some festive cheer by providing a surprise personalised gift for individuals likely to spend Christmas without family.

“We know there are people in our community who, for one reason or another, spend their Christmases without family.   The aged care facility we are working with on this will identify the individual recipients and give us an idea of what sort of gift would suit each one, to a value of around $25.  We’ll write down that information on the back of the gift tag and will hang it on the tree,” she explained.

Those keen to support the initiative and become a ‘Santa to a Senior’ simply select a tag from the tree, buy the suggested gift wherever they want, and return the unwrapped gift with the tag to the basket placed under the tree.

After 4pm on December 20, Altrusa members will collect the gifts, wrap and label them, then taken them to the aged care facility who will deliver them to recipients on Christmas Day.

“The concept came up when I was thinking of a new project for the club,” said Alison, who is a nurse and a long-time Altrusa member.  “I know this has been done in the South Island, so thought why not personalise it for Cambridge give it a try up here?  The only criteria from Altrusa’s perspective was for us to do some fundraising to support the project. We did that with a sausage sizzle and were offered help by Jumble Around.  We think Cambridge residents will get behind us on this one.”

The Cambridge club is part of a worldwide network linked to Altrusa International, a global service organisation with a focus on education and literacy.  Local members raise funds each year for distribution to several community organisations, and run various other initiatives, including assisted shopping trips for residents at St Andrew’s Retirement Village.

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