Crystal Holek started Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack and the idea has snowballed. (Crystal Holek)

Crystal Holek started Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack and the idea has snowballed. (Crystal Holek)

Custom care packages coming to make Christmas brighter for hundreds of Chilliwack seniors

Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack has matched 550 isolated seniors with generous gift-giving participants

Several hundred Christmas care packages lovingly put together for lonely seniors will be dropped off next week in downtown Chilliwack.

Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack was created by Crystal Holek “to help spread some happiness” to isolated Chilliwack seniors during the global pandemic.

The whole idea just strikes the right chord in people.

Early on Holek put the call out on social media for those interested in being matched with a senior to put together a customized gift package for them.

“COVID-19 has isolated so many seniors in our community. Many can no longer have visitors in their homes and they are afraid to go out in public. They need us!” Holek posted.

One post had a staggering 30,000 views. Out of that, 3,000 inquiries poured in from people wanting to adopt a local senior.

It all snowballed from there.

A busy mom and wife with a full-time job, Holek has been working on this project every night when she gets home from work at night.

“I just love seniors. My grandma was my special person,” she says.

That made her think of how awful it must be for some seniors, isolated and disconnected, to try to navigate the holidays during a pandemic from inside a care home, or tiny apartment.

So far she has successfully matched more than 550 senior citizens with generous and kind Chilliwackians who messaged her on social media in order to adopt a local senior.

“It’s really about the human connection they’re making, even if the care package is coming from someone they don’t know.”

Reading the requests that have come in from seniors she’s cried tears of laughter, and tears of sadness.

“They are so witty, and funny, and many express how thankful they are to have a connection,” Holek says. “It so fun and heart-warming.”

One 90-year-old requested some whiskey and rock and roll. Some said all they wanted for Christmas was to be with their family. A few asked for dolls or stuffed animals to have something to hold.

She’s been working with local care homes and seniors’ organizations, putting the pairs together based on questionnaire the recipient fills out with what they would like or need.

They don’t have to qualify based on any income criteria. They just have to be seniors and lonely.

Also they could still use a few more applications from seniors, as they have a waitlist of 300 volunteers looking for matches.

All gifts purchased must be new and unused. Dropoffs are starting Sunday, Dec. 13, Tuesday, Dec. 15, and Wednesday, Dec. 16. The gift packages will be quarantined before delivery.

“My hope is that we start doing this every year,” Holek added.

Some people have posted pics of their care packages containing items like cozy pajamas, slippers, throw blankets, books, crosswords, chocolate, and skin moisturizer.

It’s not just about the gifts, though. Folks are asked to personalize their packages with little notes, photos or crafts.

“This is about showing our seniors we care about them, and reminding them they’re not alone.”

Message the ‘Adopt-A-Senior Chilliwack’ pages on Facebook or Instagram to get involved.

READ MORE: Making contact with neighbourhood connectors to avoid isolation

READ MORE: Groups come through to help seniors during the pandemic

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