Cheryl DeMaere Ellis isn't known for being at a loss for words, but yesterday, emotions ran high as she and a pair of volunteers delivered the bulk of blankets, gifts, and gift cards to 555 seniors in the Cochrane area.

"I am more than overwhelmed," says DeMaere Ellis, who is the southern Alberta area manager for Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Assoc. (CAN).

"Cochrane residents are so above the call of love. It's amazing."

It's the third year that the Seniors Christmas List campaign was coordinated by CAN, and it's the largest number of seniors they've reached yet. 

It's the largest number yet of seniors touched by the spirit of Christmas giving, thanks to the generosity of Cochrane area residents. A few of them were delivered on Dec. 14, but the bulk of them made their way to Cochrane's four senior homes yesterday.

Some independently living seniors also received gifts.

"Last night, we made a delivery to a senior gentleman who was so overwhelmed. He got a gift and a gift card for his Christmas dinner, and that's so important," says DeMaere Ellis.

Karla McLearn, a lifelong Cochranite, was one of the volunteers who stepped forward to help sort and distribute the gifts. She also volunteered last year.

"When I walked in on Monday to deliver my gifts, I nearly cried. It takes you aback a little bit. We live in such an amazing community; so generous."

Heather Wolfe-Williams is from Red Deer and she returns every year to help. She continues to be impressed with Cochrane's community spirit.

"It's just so overwhelming," she says. "It took us three hours just to separate these gifts last night. and that's three of us doing it steadily."

Next to be delivered are gifts to seniors in Lacombe and Didsbury.

"I think there is more of a need and a lot of people are still suffering. So it's overwhelming the number of gifts that we do see and get in. It's amazing because everybody is having trouble, so there's so much love to do this as well."

The first stop yesterday was Bethany Cochrane.

Bethany's recreation therapist Jason Johnson says the gifts are appreciated by their residents.

"It guarantees that every resident gets something on Christmas Day, which is a valuable part of our Christmas tradition. As well, it assures that they have something functional that they can use right away that they need so the needs are met of the residents, and everyone loves getting a gift on Christmas."

seniors giftsAn impressive look at all the gifts donated before they were sorted for distribution. (Photo/Mili Palacios, Rocky Mt. Rotary Club)