Poinsettia delivery packs an emotional punch

West Shore RCMP Keep in Touch program keeps seniors warm 'n' fuzzy over the holidays

Anna Burchill

Donna Ensor reads aloud a long list of names as auxiliary Const. Derek Brand drives. Karen Crowther shuffles through a stack of Christmas cards in envelopes.

Ensor and Crowther are volunteers with the Keep in Touch program. Monday to Friday, volunteers call all 37 senior participants.

Each year in December, KIT volunteers bring a poinsettia, chocolate and card to everyone in the program.

Stopping at the Prince Edward Lodge on Station Avenue, Brand and Ensor carry poinsettias and Crowther brings cards and a handful of Lindt chocolates.

The three women waiting are visibly excited to see the people they talk to nearly everyday on the phone.

“I don’t hear very well and I don’t see very well. I like this program, it’s nice because I don’t talk to many people,” said Anna Burchill, 89.  “It’s the only plant I get,” she added of the visit and delivery. “I treasure this stuff.”

Cherishing the company, Burchill shares stories from her past of cross-country skiing to school in Saskatchewan “when the snow was too deep to walk.” She also talks of her love of dancing that began when she was seven.

“They treat us like real people when other people don’t. They are nice and polite,” says Mickey Champman, 84, excited to match faces to the voices she hears on the phone.

As the volunteers leave the lodge and head back to the van to make more deliveries, Doris Peacman, 84, says good-bye.

“Thank you so much, you leave us with such big smiles,” she adds.

While making their rounds, Ensor and Crowther know who will be home, for example one lady goes swimming every Friday morning.

While a few minutes on the phone my be nothing to some people, it means the world to participants and volunteers. Especially at Christmas.

“One day a lady was in tears and asked me how much she owed me (for the plant). I said it was a gift,” says Ensor.

“Some of them this is the only thing they get,” Crowther adds. “It’s a rough time for them.”

KIT volunteers also send out birthday cards throughout the year and offer an annual spring tea. To sign up for the KIT program call 250-474-8791 or to volunteer call 250-474-2264.