Partnership promotes a giving agenda

Cookies for coats and Sacs from Santa bring holiday spirit to the less fortunate

Tasty ginger bread cookies were given out in exchange for donations of coats at Amica at Bayview, a retirement residence in the Bayview Avenue and Sheppard Avenue area.

The project called “Cookies for Coats” ended November 15 and the donated coats will keep some needy seniors and newcomers to Canada warm and cozy this winter.

The project was initiated by Red Coats Moving Solutions, a moving management company that helps people downsize, and move into their new homes.

Red Coats has close ties with New Circles Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that provides new and gently used clothing to seniors and families in need, free of charge.

Clients often donate items to New Circles through Red Coats, and “Cookies for Coats” is another way Red Coats has encouraged people to donate.

“Everybody needs to clean out their closets from time to time,” says Vicky Riley Keyes, who started Red Coats in 2004.

“We thought this would be a great way to encourage people to clear out their closets and coats at this time of the year…for us it’s a really good tie-in because when we’re helping people downsize, they always have extras of things that they don’t really need anymore,” said Riley Keyes.

“And a lot of people feel good about giving things away to a charity that needs it. With New Circles, we feel like they really do need it.”

Amica at Bayview became the venue for the first annual “Cookies for Coats” project this year. The ginger bread cookies were baked by the facility’s chef and some seniors and staff at the retirement residence participated by donating coats.

“Anything that we do for less fortunate seniors, our residents are very, very active, and they’re really happy to participate,” said Kimberly Davies, the community relations manager at Amica at Bayview.

“They understand that there’s a privilege to be able to give to anyone … I think there’s a good feeling when you can give to others, and they [the seniors] acknowledge that.”

“Cookies for Coats” isn’t the only way Amica at Bayview reaches out to the community. “Helping Hands” is a year-round endeavour at the retirement residence in helping those less fortunate in the community. During the holiday season, they put together special packages that are donated to less fortunate seniors.

“We’ll be putting together 50 hampers … that will have an Amica blanket, non perishable foods, and gift cards and such,” said Davies. “We contact different churches in the area, and organizations where they’ve identified a senior in need, and that goes out.”

New Circles also has two holiday programs. Through the “Holiday Angel” program, families in need are interviewed and matched with donors.

Through the “Santa Sac” program, seniors in need receive “a sac of new reading material, warm clothing, personal items, and holiday treats – often the only gifts they will receive,” says organization on its website.

If you wish to make a donation to New Circles, please call (416) 422-2591, or visit their website for more information at www.newcircles.ca.