The Rotaract Club of Stratford’s Be An Angel to a Senior program has taken off in the three years since Sarah Merkel was inspired by a similar initiative in London.
Merkel, a Rotaract Club volunteer and past-president, tackled the idea during her second maternity leave. She co-ordinated gifts for about 40 seniors in the community during that first year, a number that has nearly tripled since.
“I just thought it was something nice for seniors, (especially at) Christmas,” she said. “They’re so wonderful, and depending on circumstances, some might not have family and are more in need. It brings some extra cheer at Christmastime.”
Rebecca Price, the current Rotaract president and program co-lead with Merkel, reached out to contacts at local agencies One Care, The Local Community Food Centre, Emily Murphy Centre, Optimism Place, Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association, House of Blessing, YMCA and Community Living, who helped sign up 112 seniors for the program in 2020. Gift requests ranged from gift cards for groceries and transportation to toiletries.