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Family tradition of giving to continue in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Operation: Santa for Seniors going into fourth year
Last year Angela Morel and her team of helpers made 594 gift bags for seniors in addition to 10 packages for residents of the local hospice. (Special to The News)

A Christmas family tradition will continue for a fourth straight year as Operation Santa for Seniors gears up for this years holiday season.

Organizer Angela Morel said that even though they won’t be picking up donations until after Remembrance Day, they decided to release details about how the community can support the program now because of the messages and letters of interest they have already received.

Santa for Seniors started as a family tradition for Angela Morel in 2019.

Up until that year Morel’s family would exchange gifts with each other for Christmas.

But, when Morel would visit her father, who was living in a seniors building in town, she would notice a lot of the people living there were lonely.

So that year her family decided instead of exchanging gifts, they would pool their money and purchase items for Christmas packages for all of the residents.

Then on Christmas eve Morel, her father-in-law, and husband, Marty, went door-to-door in the building leaving packages at the doors at all 80 of the residents – including her father’s – who was also unaware as to who left the present.

The following year they decided to do the same thing. That year they posted their idea online and the post shared with all of their friends who wanted to help.

In 2020 they were able to put together 545 packages. They had so many that they partnered with Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services, as well as the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network to help them distribute.

READ MORE: Seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows getting a special visit from Santa this year

Last year they had enough to put together 604 gift packages – 594 for seniors in the community and 10 larger family gift packages for McKenney Creek Hospice Residence patients and their families.

Santa for Seniors is now done in Morel’s father’s memory – Jean-Claude Charron, known as John to his friends – passed away in July, 2020.

This year, like last, they are looking for items of both festive and practical comfort including: small tinned or packaged cookies; small individually wrapped or boxed chocolates or treats; individual hot chocolate packages, teas, and/or cider; festive, cozy socks; stretchy, soft knit gloves; smaller cozy scarves; mini hand sanitizers; Christmas ornaments; $5 Tim Hortons gift cards or grocery cards; mini, pocket-sized crossword or word search books; playing cards; tiny lotions; tiny Kleenex packages; and $1 Scratch N’ Win tickets.

ALSO: More than 600 gift bags to be donated across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

“Due to sanitizing procedures and gift package sizing and storage restrictions, we will have to limit the variety of items as closely as possible to the listing above,” noted Morel.

Morel and her husband will pick up items to be donated from Sunday, Nov. 13, until Monday, Dec. 5.

“Safe/contactless porch pick up procedures can be accommodated! We are both fully vaccinated and will wear masks if preferred during donation pick-ups,” added Morel.

Morel and her team are also looking for monetary donations, that helps them to balance out supplies and ensure the variety and quantities of needed items, she explained.

“Every dollar donated is tracked, recorded, and balanced and put to thoughtful use in order to acquire all the glittery, tasty, warm items of comfort and joy we possibly can and for the best value possible,” said Morel, noting that progress updates and videos of the shopping, packing, assembly, wrapping, and gift giving will all be posted online.

Cash donations can be e-transferred to

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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