This year the Christmas tree inside Tigz Designs isn’t decorated with balls, bells and ribbon. This year, the tree is decorated with numbered tags. Each tag corresponds to a senior living at Swan Valley Lodge that may not receive family or a gift this year at Christmas. Lori Cameron and Su Klinack of Tigz Designs have decided to give back to their community this year with their Be Santa to a Senior program where participants in the program get to choose from three price options – $15, $20 or $25 – and bring joy to someone this holiday season. “Before the tree was even up at the store, we already had a list of people wanting to get involved,” says Cameron.
Tigz Designs is creating baskets of goodies, which could include chocolate, coffee, tea, lotions, soaps, and teddy bears for at least forty seniors at Swan Valley Lodge. “Customers pick a tag and choose a dollar amount, and they may wish to include a personal message as well. I think it’s going to be a really great way for our community to come together. Yellow Rose Handcrafted Design is supplying coloured unscented soap, and my sister Su is making cloth coasters. We’ll have a list of food preferences and allergies, and each basket will be unique to the senior who is receiving a gift.”
Swan Valley Lodge Residential Services Manager Walter Felitsyn and social worker Shannon Romano are enthusiastic about the idea, and believe it is a wonderful way for Creston to come together. “We think it’s a great idea,” says Felitsyn. “At Swan Valley we really work hard to provide the best quality of life possible, but it’s not always easy to feel a part of the community outside these walls. This program really helps with that and we’re hoping, in some way, this changes the view some people have about residential care. I hope people see this place as a home and not a clinical or medical institution.”
Romano sees the benefits of this program going beyond gift giving. “Not only does it connect community and helps the emotional needs of seniors during the holiday season, it also goes towards better understanding seniors. This may, in turn, help with other social problems like elder abuse.”
Cameron and Klinack are hoping this will be a successful first year, and that it will become more and more successful as years go on. “We love Christmas, and we were looking for a way to make a real difference during the holiday season. As soon as we started telling people our idea, they were asking to be put on an email list. That really speaks volumes about the people of Creston,” says Cameron.
“Our basement is full of supplies. We can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll dress in a Santa suit or dress the dog in a reindeer costume,” jokes Klinack.
Felitsyn and Romano are especially excited to see the reaction from residents at Swan Valley’s dementia unit. “When seniors suffer from dementia, they find real joy in the moment. Their short-term memory is gone, but they link joy of the immediate moment to the joy of their past Christmases when they were eight or ten years old. They may not remember what people said or did, but they will remember how they felt. That is what counts the most.”
“Our seniors have contributed so much, and this is such a great way to give back,” says Romano. “At Swan Valley, we often have to stretch the budget so that all seniors feel the joy from receiving a gift at Christmas. The Be Santa to a Senior program helps with that.”
Tigz Designs will be delivering the holiday baskets on Christmas Eve. Those wanting to participate must do so by December 22nd. Tigz Designs is located at 1013 Canyon Street and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. As it gets closer to the holiday season, Tigz will be open until 8:00 p.m. on Fridays.