Breanna Brosko has initiated her Adopt-A-Grandparent program for the fourth year this Christmas, and with more than 300 “grandparents” up for adoption, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.
Brosko’s initiative came as a result of her relationship with her great grandfather.
“He lived up in Kamloops and I really wanted to go see him for Christmas one year but it wasn’t in the cards for us, so I thought ‘how many other grandparents are there out there who don’t get to see their family [at Christmas],’” said Brosko. “I decided to do something about it.”
The concept is simple. Visit one of three Christmas trees set up with tags for gift suggestions, i.e. Grandmother would like a sweater; Grandfather would like a hockey magazine subscription; Grandmother would like slippers.
“We talk with the seniors’ homes,” said Brosko, explaining the process of getting the names. “So we are in partnership with Cumberland Lodge, the Seniors’ Village and also Glacier View Lodge.”
Pick any tag you prefer (they are all readable; not in envelopes), get the gift, and return the tag and gift to the same location.
Readable tags mean participants can customize their gifts.
“We have one lady who loves crocheting and crochets blankets. So she looks for tags specifically for anyone who is looking for a blanket or something warm,” said Brosko.
Trees have been placed at Jo Klassen’s Restaurant (14-2401 Cliffe Ave. Courtenay), Finders Keeps Hers Boutique (314 5th St., Courtenay), and Art Knapp’s Plantland (2855 Wentworth Rd., Courtenay)
The program has grown every year – from 75 in 2016, to 304 this Christmas season. A couple of reasons for the success of the program are its simplicity, and the personal touch that goes along with it. While participants do not meet the recipients, knowing in advance what the person wants, gives the project added meaning.
“Last year I picked a tag of a grandmother who just wanted some pictures of the Comox Valley,” said Brosko. “So I went out with my camera, took some pictures of Point Holmes beach, because that’s one of my favourite places, then we put them all in a photo book for her, added some framed pictures. She loved it.
“Most of the recipients, they just want something simple. They want a pair of slippers; a new toothbrush; a comb. A lot of it is just the little things that we don’ think about very much from day to day, but a little gift like that is just going to mean the world to them.”
Gifts should be returned to the respective locations no later than Dec. 16, to allow for distribution prior to Christmas day.
Brosko is in Grade 12 this year, and like many graduating students, she has visions of leaving the Comox Valley in the coming years. But she assures the Adopt-A-Grandparent program is here to stay.
“This will definitely not come to an end,” she said. “I am hoping to stay in the Valley for a couple of years [after graduation], and then from there I would really like to move to Victoria, but I have a really strong foundation for this project. This year we have taken on new volunteers and it’s been wonderful; I’ve got to meet a whole bunch of new people from around the Valley. It’s not going to stop when I’m gone.”