Everyone needs a little Christmas cheer in their lives this time of year, and Boshkung Brewing Co. is partnering with Highland Wood LongTerm Care Home to ensure some of our most vulnerable residents have something to smile about on the big day.

Deb Banks conceptualized the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ initiative several years ago while she was working in another community. Having recently relocated to the Highlands, she was on the lookout for something similar she could support here.

Banks contacted Highland Wood and got talking to Brenda Wingerden, a nurse who has worked at the home for several years. She quickly learned that no such program exists in Haliburton County. “It’s Christmas, the whole idea behind this is to spread the spirit and help people feel special at this time of the year,” Banks said. “With COVID, things have been really difficult for people living in long-term care homes. They haven’t been able to see their relatives or friends, and maybe haven’t had much of anything around this time of year, so we wanted to step in and kind of help brighten the holidays for them.”

Stockings have already been put together for the 28 seniors who reside at Highland Wood. They are filled with personal care items, toiletries and small treats designed to “bring a smile to their faces,” Banks said.

Wingerden confirmed this was the first time an initiative like this had been brought to Highland Wood.

“Our staff were really excited when they heard about this … The last year and a half has been very stressful for residents. They haven’t had a whole lot to be happy about,” Wingerden said. “I think this program is great. It’s helping the generation that has done so much for us. It’s not much, but it’s something that will make a big difference in their lives.”

Banks said she is still taking monetary donations to cover the cost of some of the stockings, noting residents can sponsor a stocking for $10. Boshkung Brewing Co. is also running a festive food drive, with all proceeds going to area food banks. Boxes for non-perishable items have been set up at their locations in Carnarvon and Minden.

All stockings will be delivered to Highland Wood by Christmas Eve.

“We have had generous donations already from people supporting this program. I’m just excited that we were able to pull this off. Our seniors paved the way for us, so I feel it’s important that we let them know we appreciate all they have done for us, and that we care,” Banks said.