Caren Pritchard (left) and Maureen Margetts have been busy for the past several years making sure seniors in Williams Lake who may not have family or friends around for the holidays, still receive a gift. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Caren Pritchard (left) and Maureen Margetts have been busy for the past several years making sure seniors in Williams Lake who may not have family or friends around for the holidays, still receive a gift. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Santa’s elves making Christmases brighter for seniors

“All this one man wanted was an extra-large Batman suit,” Margetts chuckled

For over a decade, Christmas elves appear to have taken a special fondness to seniors living in the Cariboo.

That’s when longtime Williams Lake resident Maureen Margetts and a dear, family friend she called Grandma Jenks (Marg Jenkins), came up with the idea to hold a secret Santa’s Elves for Seniors living in independent living, long-term care, or assisted living facilities.

Grandma Jenks had recently moved into what was then Retirement Concepts (now Williams Lake Seniors Village), and Maureen would regularly go visit her.

“She would say: ‘Oh, it’s so sad. So and so doesn’t have any family that comes to visit them, and so and so can’t find his deck of cards, and this lady needs a calendar,” Maureen said. “Grandma Jenks was the belle of the ball. She was the neatest person, and she would write down everyone’s name and what they were missing, then she started giving me a list and I’d go buy all the stuff.”

Maureen and Grandma Jenks would then roam the halls delivering all the gifts to residents, much to their delight.

“I’d always say: ‘You can’t open this ‘til Christmas,’ but they wouldn’t,” Margetts laughed. “Everyone would be so happy, and it just made me feel better and made Grandma Jenks not worry so much.”

When Grandma Jenks passed away, the list of seniors needing gifts at Christmas time had grown so long Margetts needed a helper to sort through all the names.

READ MORE: Williams Lake resident encourages everyone to ‘make some noise’ for essential workers

That’s when she enlisted the help of fellow Williams Lake resident Caren Pritchard, who was a complete stranger to her at the time.

In 2016, Pritchard said she had been in the process of putting together her own plan to deliver gifts to seniors, as well, when Maureen contacted her.

“I had been thinking: ‘I can’t keep doing this,’” Maureen said. “I’d been whining about it and [my husband] John said, ‘Well, find someone else to help.’

“I’d seen her name on Facebook, I didn’t know her, but knew her mom and that she was a real go-getter, so I phoned her up and asked if she would like to take half the names and find elves, amongst her friends, people that would take care of a senior, and she jumped right on board. She finds her elves and I find my elves and that’s that.”

Over the years, the list has continued to grow, where last year 40 gifts were distributed among residents at the Williams Lake Seniors Village.

Each year Margetts and Pritchard get a list from the Williams Lake Seniors Village, along with gift requests. They then divvy up their lists of gift ideas among people they know in order to deliver the gifts in time for Christmas.

Pritchard said she wanted to get involved after thinking about people living in seniors facilities who have no family around over the holidays. This year, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, it will be especially challenging, she said.

“At Christmas, everyone’s heart starts expanding, like the Grinch, and everybody just wants to give,” she said. “I find it very heartwarming to think I made somebody smile, especially at this time of year.”

The dynamic duo of Christmas elves has also expanded their lists this year to include items for Cariboo Place and for seniors living independently who take part in activities at the Williams Lake Seniors Activity Centre.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Pritchard said of the number of people who do not have family nearby over the holidays. “There are so many people in need. And this is going to be a particularly hard year for a lot of people.”

Thinking back over the years, Margetts noted her favourite gift ever was for a Williams Lake Seniors Village resident several years ago.

“All this one man wanted was an extra-large Batman suit,” she chuckled. “I just thought: ‘How am I ever going to do this?’ but I gave it to one of my most creative friends and, God bless her, I don’t know where she found it, but she did it.

“Well, this man would wear that Batman suit down for breakfast, lunch, whatever, and when the ladies came he would put out their chairs, push them in. He was a real gentleman. It’s fun stories like that, that make it all worth it.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Christmas holidaySeniorsWilliams Lake

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

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.
FOREST INK: A year to remember for lumber prices

As of March 12, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) two-by-four cost $1,040 per thousand board feet

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Drier weather good for calving season

My partner and I team up to look for any newborns and note them for later in the day

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 president David Brideau salutes the Cenotaph at city hall during a past Remembrance Day services in Williams Lake Monday, Nov. 11. Brideau, who served three years with the Canadian military in Edmonton, was the parade commander during the Legion’s Remembrance Day service. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake legion looks to upgrade lounge, patio, to be COVID compliant

Upgrades will require significant financial investment, Branch 139 president David Brideau said

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

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

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read