Special tree back at Bayshore
A local initiative to ensure residents at some Owen Sound-area seniors homes are not forgotten during the Christmas season is set to kick off.
The Bells of Christmas tree will be set up Saturday in the lobby at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre for a third straight year. The tree will include locally made white crocheted bells attached to a piece of paper that includes the first name of a senior and gift suggestions for them. This year’s tree includes 118 crocheted bells, which is up from 109 last year and 80 in the first year.
“These are people who don’t get a visit all year,” said an organizer of the event, who wishes to remain anonymous. “They are lonely people and subsequently they don’t get gifts at Christmas-time.”
Once the tree is set up, passersby are encouraged to take a bell from the tree, purchase a gift, wrap it, attach the tag to the gift and place it in a collection box beside the tree by Nov. 27.
The organizer said this year there are 11 seniors homes involved and the seniors on the tags ask for a variety of items, including shirts, pajamas, socks, track pants, a blanket or sports memorabilia. “Some say they would be thankful for anything,” said the organizer. “People can use their own judgment.”
The organizer said it is all done anonymously so those receiving gifts don’t feel self-conscious should they come across an organizer or those buying the gifts. It also makes it feel more genuine, as if the gift is coming from the North Pole.
“I think as people get older sometimes they revert back to their childhood and Santa Claus is important to them,” said the organizer. “That is why I like them to think that Santa did come.”
The organizer said the idea for the initiative came about after people were heard commenting about people in local seniors facilities who never see visitors.
“I thought, in this little town of ours that is a pretty sad commentary,” the organizer said. “So I thought maybe this would be a way around it.”
The initiative was extremely successful the first two years it was held as the bells were quickly claimed by Good Samaritans wanting to brighten Christmas for a local senior.
“It is just from the heart,” said the organizer. “It is people caring about people.”
The organizer said the people who take the bells come from all over, and some take multiple bells. The organizer knows one person who has said she wants to get gifts for three men and three women this year.
“They really seem to enjoy it. The response has been absolutely awesome,” the organizer said.
The tree will go up on Saturday in time for a pair of Owen Sound Attack hockey games that will be at the Lumley-Bayshore on the weekend.
Along with the crocheted bells, there will be gold, silver and red bells that will stay on the tree throughout the Christmas season. The tree will also be lit up after Remembrance Day on Sunday.