Skip to main content

'People just brighten right up': Be a Santa to a Senior program gifts residents in long term care

One Saskatoon couple is making Christmas a little brighter for seniors in the community.

Greg and Karen Charyna have been running Be a Santa to a Senior since 2009, and Greg says it has changed over the years.

“COVID kind of shut us down completely for one year. And then last year was a little similar to this year where we were only able to put together some gifts and drop them off.”

He said prior to the pandemic, volunteers would visit and chat with the seniors.

“What we've seen in the past is some people just brighten right up, because their world is pretty small. And they might not get very many visitors over the year. So to be remembered, to be thought of is really a nice feeling,” Greg said.

“What we hope to do again in the future, and what we used to do, really was emphasize the one on one connection and visit because that's sort of the biggest gift, right, the gift of time.”

Greg said this year they’ll be assembling gift bags and dropping them off at seniors’ homes so the staff can hand them out.

“Our goal is to get back to providing a gift for every resident of long term care, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 gifts,” he said.

On average, they’ve been able to reach 500-600 seniors.

A GoFundMe page for the program has raised just under $8,000 towards its $10,000 goal.

Greg said they’ve partnered with Saskatoon schools in the past to have students create cards for the seniors.

“Classes are making really beautiful handmade Christmas cards and also providing some other crafts and decorations that will be included for each of the residents,” he said.

“I call them works of heart. They are lovely.” Top Stories

Stay Connected