Brookswood Seniors Activity Centre and Bria Communiities representatives safely delivered gifts to local seniors on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (Bria Communities/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Brookswood Seniors Activity Centre and Bria Communiities representatives safely delivered gifts to local seniors on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (Bria Communities/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley seniors groups team up to host Christmas parade of gifts

A seniors food program and seniors complex firm deliver goodies to many

This year dressing up for Christmas means adding PPE.

So when members of the Brookswood Senior Citizens Activity Centre and Bria Communities held a parade Thursday, Dec. 10, their red and green and gold and silver includes safety gear.

In a typical year, these Brookswood seniors would gather monthly for meals and socializing opportunities culminating in a festive Christmas luncheon in December with “hot lunch, sing-along, entertainment from one or another of our centre’s groups, an original skit put on by the executive of the centre, and some sort of gift exchange. This year, of course, we couldn’t host a luncheon,” said Lydia Francescutti, with the seniors centre.

This year, the centre’s Food and Friends committee and executive team for the Activity Centre came up with a creative plan to connect with their friends and share the holiday spirit despite COVID-19 restrictions — a parade delivered directly to the seniors.

“We’ve been saddened because of all the things we cannot do so wondered if there was anything we could do to put a little cheerfulness back into the holidays,” she said. “We needed something where people would be safely distant yet still enjoy themselves in the spirit of the season.”

The seniors centre and Bria, which operates retirement residences in the community, teamed up to deliver an unusual Christmas celebration to the seniors who enjoy the Food and Friends luncheon program at the centre.

They prepared 39 bags of cookies as well as face masks, calendars, mittens. Bria Communities provided swag bags full of additional goodies for seniors to enjoy.

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A number of the Food and Friends seniors dropped by in their cars and received their gifts passed safely through the window.

At 11 a.m., a parade of decorated cars left the activity centre to visit 20 houses throughout Langley, and deliver the bags and Christmas cheer safely and in a fun way.

“It is awesome to see seniors thinking of innovative ways to care for each other through these challenging times,” said Sherri Martin, residency coordinator for Bria Communities in Langley, who participated in the giveaway and parade. “Social isolation is a big issue for seniors right now, and loneliness can be especially hard at Christmas time. This project was such a great way to combat it.”

Francescutti noted that the volunteers at the centre (executive and a few others) collaborate really well.

“Everyone pitched in – telephoning, decorating, taking photos, baking, collecting gift items, sewing, writing Christmas greetings, assembling the gift bags – truly a group effort,” she said.

With holiday music playing, lots of social distancing, and Santa Claus driving the Bria Communities courtesy shuttle instead of his sleigh, the parade went from home to home. They delivered greetings of ‘we miss you’ and ‘we love you!’ along with the festive care packages.

“Seeing the smiles on some of our seniors who are most affected by the pandemic restrictions was immensely gratifying. They clearly appreciated the contact,” Francescutti said.

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Know of a great example of holiday spirit in our community?

Email: heather.colpitts@langleyadvancetimes.com
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Gifts were distributed to some local seniors on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. Irene Jamieson (in car) received gifts from Esther Gallanger. (Bria Communities/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Gifts were distributed to some local seniors on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. Irene Jamieson (in car) received gifts from Esther Gallanger. (Bria Communities/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Brookswood seniors received holiday gifts during a special parade on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 (Bria Communities/Special to the Langley Advance Times)