The Morel family in the elevator of the building where her father used to live, with a load of gift packages. (Special to The News)

The Morel family in the elevator of the building where her father used to live, with a load of gift packages. (Special to The News)

Operation Santa for Seniors gives presents to hundreds in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows

Incredible response to call for donations of gifts for the elderly

More than 500 seniors in Maple Ridge received gift packages this year courtesy of the new Operation Santa for Seniors charity.

The initiative was conceived in 2019 when Angela and Marty Morel decided that instead of a family gift exchange, they wanted to help make Christmas brighter for seniors in Angela’s father’s apartment building on 224th Street. They created 80 gift packs last year – one for each resident of the building. There were ornaments, candy canes, gloves, toques and other items.

“We decided to do that, instead of expensive gifts for each other,” said Angela. “We had gifts for the entire building.

“Some of them, that’s the only gift they got.”

Sadly, Angela’s father passed away during the summer. Jean-Claude Charron never knew that it was his family who had been the secret Santa for his buildings.

The family still wanted to help the seniors in his building, in his memory.

“We’re doing it in his honour now,” said his daughter.

They shared the idea with family and friends in social media. Those contacts also told their friends, and the compounding response in donations was incredible.

“A few of my friends shared it, and it just went crazy,” said Angela.

For 48 hours, Angela spent her every free moment texting with someone who had a donation, she remembered. At that point, she knew this was bigger than her late father’s apartment tower. In the year of COVID-19, she saw a more generous spirit of giving.

“This year, people wanted to be a part of something, and they wanted to help.”

READ ALSO: Roofers raise funds for Salvation Army Ridge Meadows

That was the sudden start of Operation Santa for Seniors. When the Morels knew they would have a lot more than 80 gift packs this year, Angela reached out to Community Services to ask if they knew of any seniors who might want a special gift this Christmas. Together, the delivered 545 packages.

They had gifts of hand-knitted scarves, candles, hot chocolate, masks, soaps, candy and all kinds of donations they put in their gift packs.

They each had to be assembled by hand, and the bulk of the work was done by family – those inside the Morels’ bubble. Her mother Autumn Charron, who is in her 70s, put together about 400 of the packages.

Community Services told them about five seniors who were “in a little more need,” and they got special, larger packages.

When the packages were done, there were another 130 stocking stuffer assortments that were delivered to Chartwell Willow’s seniors. An abundance of socks and chocolates was left over, and delivered to the Salvation Army for its shelter residents.

“I am a senior who received a gift bag full of items from Santa. Whoever Santa is, I just want to say that I am extremely appreciative of the time and effort given to the selection of gifts,” wrote Noah Thaddeus in social media. “Thank you Santa.”

READ ALSO: Salvation Army ‘astounded by the generosity’ in Ridge Meadows

And the participants were also moved.

“This is simply awe inspiring. Participating in this is really the only time I’ve really felt the Christmas spirit and I’m so thankful to you for that,” wrote Sarah Eastman on the Operation Santa for Seniors Facebook page. “You blessed us by allowing us to help you bless others. This made this very difficult Christmas so much better.”

Angela said this is likely to become an annual event.

“People are already committing (donations) for next year,” she said. “We look forward to being able to support more seniors in Christmas 2021. We would love to hit 1,000.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Hospitalsmaple ridgePitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Staff at Bruce’s Country Market are being asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 after an exposure at the Maple Ridge grocery store. (The News files)
Employee at Maple Ridge grocery store tests positive for COVID-19

All other staff in the department have tested negative for disease

Alouette Heights.
Fire at Alouette Heights in Maple Ridge puts half of residents out of their units

Coast Mental Health said fire was small, but sprinkler system caused damage

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Myrna Norman credits social activity for her success fighting dementia. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge woman writes inspirational book documenting living with dementia

Myrna Norman has been an active community advocate for de-stigmatizing the debilitating disease

Betty Dubé with her daughters, campaigned for Maple Ridge mayor and was elected in 1974. (Maple Ridge Museum)
LOOKING BACK: Women involved in Maple Ridge politics for decades

A look at local women in public office as the U.S. inaugurates its first female vice president

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read