Cape Breton stocking tradition warms seniors’ hearts, honours friend’s memory
Published Tuesday, November 24, 2020 10:28AM AST Last Updated Tuesday, November 24, 2020 11:11AM AST
HALIFAX -- Home-care workers in Cape Breton are taking caring for their clients to another level.
In a growing tradition, they’re “adopting” seniors, and stuffing stockings for the hundreds they care for on Sydney’s north side.
The holiday season can be a lonely time of year for elders, especially this year, with COVID-19 fears keeping many at home and away from their families.
“It’s very lonely for a lot for them because they don’t have anybody,” says volunteer Gwenna Jessome. “Especially with COVID, people are not allowed to visit and I’m sure it’s only going to get worse come Christmas time.”
Jessome says last year they started small -- delivering seven stockings. This year, it’s grown into hundreds. She says feedback from seniors made them want to help more this year.
“We had one client that didn’t even want to open his gift until the next morning because he didn’t have anything to open at Christmas time, and he would have this gift to open,” she says. “It was heart-wrenching.”
HOW IT STARTED
The idea to “adopt” seniors for Christmas came from a home-care worker, 26-year-old Kelsey Pyke, last year.
Pyke was diagnosed with cancer during the time she was starting the program. She passed away in August.
This year, the tradition carries on in her memory.
“I know she’s smiling, absolutely,” says her aunt, Tracey Groves.
The plan is to cover as many nursing homes and seniors complexes as possible on Sydney’s north side.
“We’re going to do the nursing homes, the vets,” says Jessome. “We’re going to do our seniors complex, and we’re going to give a stocking to each senior in the complex.”
She says most of the stocking items were donated, and support has come from near and far.
“We made up a Facebook group, and we have strangers, we don’t even know who they are,” says Jessome. “We have people from Sydney, people from Fort Mac, because they have loved ones here as well, and they’re not able to be with them.”
On Dec. 15, staff and volunteers are scheduled to start delivering the stockings.