(Tim Gouw / Unsplash) (Tim Gouw / Unsplash)

Two Cloverdale volunteers want to make the holiday season a little warmer for seniors

Volunteers raising funds for a blanket heater, which is on Zion Park Manor’s wish list this Christmas

Two Cloverdale volunteers are looking to make the holidays a little warmer for local seniors.

Marijana Pollon and Zita Vancea are bringing the Adopt-a-Grandparent program to Cloverdale, but they’re putting their own spin on it.

The program is in its fourth year in the Lower Mainland, but this is the first time it’s run in Cloverdale, according to Pollon and Vancea. The Christmas fundraisers have been successful in Maple Ridge, Port Moody, Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows.

The idea behind the program is simple: to bring holiday joy to local seniors.

“The thing about the Christmas season is, not all seniors have family or friends, necessarily, that are still well and living nearby,” explained Pollon. “This program is a good way to bring the holiday spirit and the sense of community togetherness to a generation that took care of us. It’s time to remember them and take care of them, the way they need to be taken care of.”

Typically, the Adopt-a-Grandparent program would collect small gifts for seniors in the community, to be presented in a Christmas-themed event at their residence. But Pollon and Vancea are instead hoping to give the residents at Zion Park Manor something that’s been on their wish list for quite some time – an industrial blanket warmer to keep the seniors warm and comfortable during Cloverdale’s long, rainy winters.

“We feel that, even symbolically, it gives them warmth,” said Pollon.

Chris Mulat, Director of Activities and Volunteers at Zion Park Manor, explained that one of the manor’s neighbourhoods (units) has been fundraising for a blanket warmer. It’s one of the things they’ve been wishing for, she said.

Staff at the manor have also been helping to raise funds, holding bake sales and other small community-based fundraisers.

The blanket warmers are expensive, and the one on Zion Park Manor’s wish list is about $4,000, said Pollon.

Vancea and Pollon are hoping to receive support from local community and businesses to grant the residents’ wish.

“We’re local, we’re moms, we’re businesswomen,” said Pollon. “Our kids swim at George Greenaway Pool, we go for walks, and Zion Park has always been there.”

Pollon and Vancea have been going to local businesses to look for sponsors, and they ran into one woman who teared up when they mentioned Zion Park Manor. Her father, it turned out, had been a resident there. Now since passed away, her father was remembered as having a great experience at the home.

Zion Park Manor was built in 1971 as an outreach program of Zion Lutheran Church. It is a non-profit organization and a registered charity, located on 180th Street in Cloverdale. There are 99 residents at Zion Park Manor, and many receive full, complex care.

Manor staff and volunteers try to make the holidays as cozy and “Christmasy” as possible, said Mulat. When the Cloverdale Reporter spoke with Mulat on Monday, Nov. 20, she had just finished a long day of putting up Christmas decorations.

The $4,000 fundraising goal may be high, but Pollon and Vancea are hopeful.

“I’ve seen it on the [local Facebook groups], when someone is need, people jump to help,” said Vancea. “That is what Cloverdale is, that is what community is about.”

“And just knowing that the residents are mostly local people, too,” added Pollon. “They have contributed to this community and helped it to grow. Now that they’re in a place where they need care, we have the ability to give back.”

The pair also want to give additional personal care and comfort items, and will be accepting small items such as scarves and gloves. Because of privacy concerns, wish lists for specific residents aren’t available. Vancea and Pollon explained that because many of the residents have special care needs, it’s best to keep donated gifts simple.

Their donation deadline is Thursday, Nov. 30, as Pollon and Vancea are planning to give the gifts on Saturday, Dec. 16.

For more information, contact adoptagrandparentcloverdale@gmail.com or call Marijana at 778-242-7201 or Zita at 604-723-5939.

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