As winter and the holiday season approach, Comox Valley Seniors Support is encouraging community members to help their local seniors during the cold, and as costs rise.
Every winter, the non-profit organization puts out a donation call for warm clothes, blankets, mittens and other items to help support local seniors.
Executive director Christopher Bate says the organization is fortunate to have many community partners able to help with the initiative such as Better at Home and Northgate Church. However, Bate adds they are seeing more seniors in poverty every year, with many seniors retiring with only their Canada Pension Plan.
“We are seeing an increase in costs in general, food, housing, property taxes and a lot of seniors have done really well in their life. They bought their house in 1972 and it has been paid off for years but the maintenance and ongoing support for that home is no longer affordable,” said Bate.
“The other scenario is escalating rent. If they are renting, rents are increasing or there’s a lot of eviction going on because properties have been sold.”
With this in mind, along with the increase of living wage, Bate says anything to help pay for groceries is beneficial.
“Where it would be really nice to get some support are things like grocery cards,” said Bate. “Also, cards for drug stores. Not all medications are covered, and seniors do purchase a lot of items that require at pharmacies around town.”
While those items are needed, Bates adds that a simple gift of community can go a long way to benefitting seniors going through a difficult time.
“If you know a senior in your community, go visit them, invite them for Christmas dinner or take a Christmas dinner to them,” said Bates. “Take a Christmas dinner to them. These are things that are really simple and easy to do and actually free to do. That’s the kind of thing people can do easily and kindly.
“If people aren’t able to donate things that cost money, they can donate through their time.”
Bate adds there are things that can be done year-round, outside of the holiday season and people realize that they want to do more.
He encourages others to lobby the local, provincial and federal governments to bring more help quickly to alleviate the high cost of housing.