By Mike Anderson

Residents at Keswick Gardens, a 120-unit seniors building at 43 The Queensway N, will be treated to a Christmas dinner with all the fixings on December 16, thanks to a local couple’s generosity and a new organization that supports seniors.

David and Beata Sirois approached their friend Alison Drenikow with the idea of sponsoring holiday meals at Keswick Gardens after Drenikow and her partner Elaine Beemer co-founded Supporting Seniors with Guided Response, a non-profit geared to helping isolated and vulnerable seniors during the pandemic.

“I just think seniors don’t get enough attention,” said Sirois, who started donating holiday meals through SSWG Response last year.

“So my wife and I just decided to help seniors in our local community through Alison’s charity.”

“When we did it the first time, it was so rewarding and fulfilling to see people looked after, so we decided to do it again.”

“With the Easter and Thanksgiving drive, we were targeting seniors that were in absolute need. But come Christmas, we just decided let’s look after the whole building.”

According to Drenikow, the Sirois’ donation with pay for 125 turkey dinners, which cost $14.95 each, for a total cost of $1,868.75 plus tax.

Sammy’s Chicken Coop (213 The Queensway S.) will prepare and drop off the meals to Keswick Gardens, and they will be delivered to each unit by volunteers from the building’s Friendship Club.

“I think it’s going to be really positive and bring some holiday spirit to those who have been so isolated,” Drenikow said.

“We’re also giving out holiday cards made by children that were donated as part of an intergenerational program. And we’re going to play Christmas carols on a keyboard outside, so residents can come out on their balconies to listen.”

“We’re also working on getting more donations for some of the residents that may not have enough money for clothes or basic toiletries.”

According to Glen Lind, vice-president of Keswick Garden’s Friendship Club, the club has provided a Christmas dinner for residents for years.

But, with the onset of the pandemic, they were told by the building’s property manager that they could no longer use the dining space at the Keswick Adult Day program and had to scramble to come up with a solution.

“We used to have Sammy’s come in, and they’d bring it cooked and dish it out in the dining room. But now with COVID, we can’t do it here without going door to door,” he said.

“We usually do it, and they said, no, we want to do it. Spend your money on something else for the club.”

Lind is grateful that SSWG Response is picking up this year’s tab so that everyone who wants a Christmas dinner will get one.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “There’s a lot of new people here that are not involved in the club, so they would have been left out.”

“The residents are going to be very happy. They’ll have someone coming to the door, which helps break up the day. And we’ve added a couple of things through the club to make it more festive. We’ll be giving out some chocolates, and we are putting on a draw to win $50.”

“It’s going to give them a boost, especially since they’ve been so isolated and don’t have those social connections anymore,” added Drenikow.

“Hopefully, it brightens their spirits and makes them realize that, you know, people do care, and people are thinking of them.”

“We have a special spot in our hearts for seniors,” Sirois said.

“By us giving back to the community, hopefully, we’ll encourage others to do the same thing. Because COVID is having a massive impact on those less fortunate.”

To find out more about Supporting Seniors with Guided Response, visit www.sswgresponse.com.

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