Tom Van Dusen
Villager Contributor

EMBRUN — Gifts are still being delivered this week as the first Russell Township Santa for Seniors project heads down the home stretch.

Sponsored by Home Hardware, Embrun, and the Perras-Chisholm Realty Team, the concept is intended to bring a little Christmas cheer to seniors who wouldn’t normally even have a visit at this time of year. Some 140 seniors were identified; most are residents of seniors’ institutions in the area.

“We’re looking to send those deserving seniors a little gift to open on Christmas Day to let them know they’re not forgotten,” organizers stated when they launched the project.

Santa for Seniors got a huge boost when Russell Trivia Services organized a quick fundraiser Dec. 14 which brought in more than $3,000 without the auction component. The Trivia Team immediately took to the project as a valid recipient.

Not satisfied with that amount, Trivia Queen Connie Johnston topped it up with another $335 collected at her annual Ugly Sweater Party last Saturday. She said Trivia Night in support of Santa for Seniors is likely to become an annual event complete with auction.

“The time and generosity you give to make your community abetter place is outstanding,” Allison Chisholm said of Johnston and her little helpers.

For the record, Jacqueline ten Hartog was declared wearer of the ugliest sweater and winner of the gaudy oversized Christmas ball trophy. Not to be undone, Marie Claire Ivanski launched a side Ugly Sweater Cookie challenge which, as the only contestant, she won hands down.

Getting involved in the project started with a visit to Embrun Home Hardware to pick a Santa ornament from the tree; the ornament was then matched at the cash with a deserving senior. A gift valued under $25 was to be placed in a holiday bag with the Santa tag and returned to the store for distribution.

The process could also be completed virtually. Recommended gifts included seasonal treats and warm wear such as sweaters, nightgowns and shawls. Cash was also collected and applied to Santa requests which weren’t picked from the tree.