The Huskies hockey team came to the event to help serve seniors. In the back row, left-right, are Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Casey Szmata, James Jensen, Emerson Hennings, Tucker Smith, Cole Smith, Logan Butz, Grant Messer, Ethan Coung, Gavin Sim, and coach Steve Hennings. In front are Santa, Rylee Gardner, Mrs. Claus and Kasen Szmata.Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

They hosted a Hot Chocolate and Hot Dog with the Clauses event in Grimshaw on Dec. 8, that organizer Susan Morrison says was a pleasure for children, seniors and all of their families, with well over 300 people attending.

“I was so pleased to see how many seniors were there watching the kids,” says Morrison.

“My dream was to bring seniors together to interact with children. To see the seniors watch the little kids on Santa’s knee was priceless.”

Morrison says they were hoping people would embrace the idea of having a community event where people could gather and make the visit with Santa a whole family experience. They organized the event so Santa and Mrs. Claus were in attendance, and they provided hotdogs, hot chocolate and desserts to all who attended. They served 350 hotdogs and 550 cups of hot chocolate to the attendees.

“It ran like a fine-tuned machine,” says Morrison, who gives special thanks to the Huskies hockey team, who came to help serve the seniors in attendance, and the high school students who came to help little children.

“It’s a difficult time in the world right now and we wanted to do this in conjunction with our Secret Santa for a Senior program. Our program is for seniors who have experienced a life changing event.”

Morrison says they plan on hosting the event again next year but hope to add a team of people to offer rides to people who may need one.

“We did it to connect lonely seniors with the joy of watching the kids with Santa,” says Resource Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Casey Szmata.

“It is a committee of ‘elves’ working together to spread holiday cheer to our most vulnerable elderly,” she adds.

Santa and Mrs. Claus with organizer Susan Morrison at Hot Chocolate and Hot Dog in Grimshaw.

Morrison says they are gearing up to bring the Secret Santa gifts on Dec. 19 to the seniors throughout the Peace region. Last year, they brought 1,200 gifts and this year they will be bringing more. Gifts given include a food hamper (to some individuals), carefully purchased items to match the person they are being given to, and some homemade baking and crafts.

“Christmas is a time when people struggle with sadness and depression,” says Morrison. “I hope if they feel sad and alone this year they can look back and hold some of the happiness from the Secret Santa and Grimshaw event.”

Morrison says her team are like detectives, listening all the time in the community to see what each senior may need. She says they are hoping to add more volunteers to their team to help make the programs run even more smoothly.

If you’re interested in helping, please phone Morrison at (780) 835-1654.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 20, 2023 at 09:55

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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