Celebrating the holiday season at Covenant sites
December 22, 2023
By Andrea Carter, administrative assistant
Every December, Covenant’s many sites and locations take time to embrace the festive spirit. Here is a peak at some of the many events that have brought joy, connections and lasting memories to our residents, families, staff and communities this holiday season.
Winter Wonderland comes to Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre
The Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre kicked off the holiday season with its annual Winter Wonderland celebration. Residents, loved ones, staff and volunteers were all invited to be part of the event, which spanned over four days.
This year people were able to enjoy the event without wearing masks, says Brenda Neuman, recreation therapist. “It was a fun event. We had a lot of families come down with their loved one.”
Since the Edmonton General is so large, with over 400 beds, planning for the event took several months and would not have been possible without dedicated volunteers. Wanting to create an opportunity to celebrate being together as a community, the planning team organized games; a mystery tree; prizes; photo, crafts and ornament booths; and a card-making table, which was the hit this year, says Brenda.
“It was really nice because our residents made cards for their grandkids and loved ones. They often can't buy cards or anything like that. They used to write cards to all their family and friends and send them out with a stamp. (The card-making) brought everyone a lot of joy.”
Holiday cards bring joy at Evanston Summit
Once again this holiday season, residents at Evanston Summit, a Covenant Living centre in Calgary, are looking forward to receiving cards with handwritten messages, well wishes and pictures from the community. The card giving has become a staple at the centre since Victoria Slany, activity and volunteer co-ordinator, initiated the project during the pandemic to help residents feel connected.
“I have about 50 to 60 people who have signed up (to send cards), and I've got cards everywhere,” says Victoria. “We wrap them up in shoe boxes, and we give them to the residents on December 22. It's just so special to see how much it means to them.”
This year the Christmas card boxes will be delivered by members of a local peewee hockey team, which will make the event extra special for residents, says Victoria.
“It's so important because sometimes seniors get forgotten at Christmas time. We want to make sure they’re feeling loved because they've done so much for us.”
Event calendars offer fun for everyone at Centre de Santé Saint-Thomas
Christmas trees and decorations fill the halls at Centre de Santé Saint-Thomas, a Covenant Care Centre in Edmonton, this season, a sight that hasn’t been seen to this extent since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The festive decorating is just one of many activities happening at the site.
“We have created two event calendars so we can offer fun things to everyone,” says Monique MacFarlane, recreation therapist.
The calendars include trivia games, a coffee social, holiday parties, caroling services, concerts by the Richfield choir, and arts and crafts. But the big focus this year is the holiday door delivery program, when ensures every resident receives a gift.
The team has reached out to family members, volunteers and the surrounding community for donations, and countless gifts have come in.
“We're getting lots of donations from the families this year, which is fantastic,” says Monique. “Everyone deserves a present at Christmas time.”
Staff act out the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ at St. Mary’s Health Care
Renewed hope and joy were in the air at St. Mary’s Health Centre in Trochu, where residents, family and friends were finally able to come together for a Christmas party since before the pandemic.
“It was amazing because it was our first party since everything has happened over the past couple of years where we were able to have family members attend,” says Randi Hogg, recreation therapist.
The party was just one of multiple events the site’s recreation staff and volunteers created to kick off the holiday season for residents. The holiday calendar also included a Christmas luncheon; caroling by students from the local school; visits by the local 4-H club, churches and choirs; and what now seems to be a Christmas tradition, acting out the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.
Staff from all areas of St Mary’s, along with volunteers, participate, says Randi. They use props and costumes, which everyone enjoys.
“(The season) is jam packed and in all the best ways,” she says.