Students spread cheer to low-income seniors

This Christmas, 130 low-income seniors will receive Christmas cards and cookies made especially for them by a group of students they’ve never met, because the kids want them to know they are a treasured part of the community.

The students at Calgary French and International School (CFIS) have partnered with Silvera for Seniors through the RESOLVE Campaign to reach out to older Calgarians who were vulnerable to or have experienced homelessness by sharing the Christmas spirit with residents of Silvera’s Westview community. The class will also be holding a fundraising banquet for RESOLVE in the new year.

Zane, a Grade 8 student at CFIS, says that he was surprised to learn how many vulnerable seniors there are in Calgary.

“We care that they have somewhere to live and we want them to know we’re thinking of them when we make these gifts,” he says. “We help charities in other parts of the world but there are also people who need our help right here in Calgary.

“There are still problems here and we need to make Calgary a better place.”

The holidays can be, heartbreakingly, a lonely time for many of Silvera’s seniors. An estimated three-quarters of them don’t have any family in their lives and won’t receive visits from anyone on Christmas.

But knowing that there are kids who care about them is a big deal to residents. “For seniors, nothing replaces feeling like part of the broader community,” says Arlene Adamson, chief executive officer of Silvera.

This is the type of support that will reduce isolation and loneliness among residents in Silvera’s RESOLVE project, a 125-unit apartment building for vulnerable seniors. Silvera is looking at a model that will invite people of all ages into the community. This could include things like coffee shops, volunteer opportunities and community spaces.

Westview resident Jessie Fleishman, 98, says she is looking forward to seeing the students on Friday when they deliver the cards and cookies. “It’s wonderful for the younger ones to take an interest in us older ones and that they are passing on the spirit of giving.”

Grade 9 student Jorden wants seniors to know they are special. “We think about homelessness as a whole but we don’t think about how it affects seniors,” she says. “Since they can’t work, they can’t make their own money. But everyone deserves to have a home.”

Slideshow photos courtesy of Calgary French and International School and Silvera for Seniors