Sending Sunshine: A simple idea more important than we realize

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Some stories in life truly stick with you. My mom worked for over a decade as a Personal Support Worker. She was itinerant, and therefore worked both in people’s homes, and in retirement homes and long term care homes. As is common for PSWs, she had to work every second Christmas and got roped into working most other holidays. 

Of course, being a PSW takes an emotional toll for many reasons, but one thing that my mom had to deal with was seeing senior citizens excitedly get dressed up for no one. I’m sure that many readers currently have elderly relatives in long term care. Their loneliness knows no bounds. Long term care facilities are great at planning activities and providing amazing care, but there is no substitute for the family that an elderly person raised and loved their whole life. 

When my mom invariably worked a split day on Christmas, early morning and then a couple of hours late afternoon or early evening, what she saw was often heartbreaking. Seniors who hadn’t seen their families in months would automatically assume that today was the day. It’s Christmas, of course my family will visit, right? My mom would be asked to dress them in their best clothes and make sure they looked nice. When she would return later that same day, many would still be waiting for relatives who were never going to show up. If the mental picture of that doesn’t have you choking back tears, I don’t know what would. Truly heartbreaking. 

Sending Sunshine

When the Times received a submission from a Canadian charity called “Sending Sunshine”, which sends holiday cards to seniors, the above stories from my mom flooded into my mind immediately. A holiday card may not be the same as a visit, but it’s certainly something. The charity has a goal of dramatically increasing its output of holiday cards this year. See their message below:

“Did you know that the winter holidays are the loneliest time for seniors? While it is generally a time to gather with loved ones, there are many seniors who have no family or friends to celebrate with. This makes the holiday season an especially lonely time for our most vulnerable.

Sending Sunshine is on a mission to help raise the spirits of our seniors this holiday season in a BIG way. Last year, we delivered cards to 200 facilities across the country during the holidays. This year, our goal is to send cards to all 669 (and counting) of our partnered facilities!

In order to make this goal a reality, we have launched our “Holiday Cheer Throughout the Year” campaign to raise the funds necessary to cover the shipping cost of these cards. Last year, we spent $3,000 to send 200 packages of cards, and so we are hoping to raise $10,000 to cover the cost of shipping cards to more than triple the number of facilities as last year.

To help out a great cause, visit https://www.sendingsunshine.ca/.

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