Mel Mitchell photo                                One of the 28 gift bags that will be stuffed with a mix of baked goods, toiletries, games and blankets for the residents of Deni House. The Deni House Secret Santa has enjoyed its best year to date and looks to expand its scope to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital next year.

Mel Mitchell photo One of the 28 gift bags that will be stuffed with a mix of baked goods, toiletries, games and blankets for the residents of Deni House. The Deni House Secret Santa has enjoyed its best year to date and looks to expand its scope to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital next year.

Deni House Santa exceeds its goals thanks to community support

The Deni House Secret Santa if fully stocked and ready to distribute.

After a wellspring of support from the lakecity community, the Deni House Secret Santa has more than enough goodies to stuff its gift bags with for 2018.

Deni House is located adjacent to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital and offers residential care for seniors both permanently and temporarily after medical care. While well-looked after, these elders were often lonely at Christmas, until the Deni House Secret Santa was started.

Brenda Thompson and Lucy Morton are some of the founding members and ringleaders of this Secret Santa. Thompson’s own late mother was a resident of Deni House for many years and gave her the initial inspiration to start the project.

“I saw it in the paper, or read it online, that some ladies were doing a gift basket for Retirement Concepts and I thought, well, instead of one basket for one person let’s see if we can do gift bags for everyone in Deni House, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Thompson said.

Each Secret Santa gift bag they put together is filled with the basics from socks, toiletries and spending money for them to go out and enjoy their day if they’re able. Thompson said that they ask for these general donations to avoid people agonizing over whether or not the recipient will like it.

Morton said that Thompson started out with two gift bags four years ago that she split into four and distributed to the seniors. Since then it has only grown and this year has been their best to date, according to Thompson.

Read More: Deni House Secret Santa provides comfort for seniors

Currently, all that remains to be purchased or made are some blankets, which members of a local seniors home are knitting, and the MP3 players and headphones Thompson requested in her previous interview with the Tribune. However, Thompson said that, due to the expensive nature of these items, she’s not expecting individual members of the public to shoulder the cost and instead hopes there will be enough cash donations to pool towards them.

“Other than that I think we have pretty much everything but if people want to keep donating the same stuff then, whatever, it will come in handy for next year or if more people come into Deni House before Christmas, which I’m sure there will be,” Thompson said.

Her initial goal for this year was 28 gift bags to match the 28 beds in the facility, roughly 18 of which are currently full. While she hasn’t stuffed all the bags yet, she said it looks like she’s met her 28-bag goal, with a little to spare.

Since she last talked to the Tribune, Thompson said the community has been just phoning her and asking her what they can donate and where they can donate gifts from her list. Local businesses and groups have also gotten involved donating money or items such as throw blankets like the Williams Lake Lionesses Club did this year.

She has also gotten a few lakecity locals on board to make baked goods for the gift bags closer to Christmas time. In addition to the individual gifts, Thompson said they will also be placing facility gifts, like movies and board games, under the Christmas tree that all residents can enjoy.

Thompson believes that the media coverage the Secret Santa received this year helped a lot and is thankful for all the support it’s received this year.

Groups and individuals that often help out at the Children’s Hospital also chose, for a change of pace, to donate their time to Deni House this year.

“It’s really refreshing to see that people still have a heart in this community, especially for the seniors,” Thompson said. “It’s going to make for a lot of people, in Deni House, very happy this Christmas.”

Already planning for the future, Thompson said she’s hoping to talk with the administration of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital about potentially expanding the program to patients with no immediate relatives. While this is still only in the conception phase, she hopes to be able to broaden the scope of the Secret Santa, while maintaining the community support.

“Everything has been just phenomenal, really good response from the people in the community, I couldn’t thank them enough,” Thompson said. “It’s show me just how much heart our community has. For the seniors it means being like a child again, being remembered, showing them that somebody out there still thinks about them still appreciates them, that they’re not alone.”

Thompson would like to thank everyone who donated to the Secret Santa this year whether it was through cheque, cash, a gift or the essentials the seniors need.

She said that she’d love to see repeat donations next year along with new donors, preferably from the younger generations, getting into the mix with both donating to and organizing the charity.

The Deni House Secret Santa will take place on Christmas Day, with Thompson and other volunteers distributing the gifts in secret on Christmas Eve.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read