On Christmas, the residents of Acropolis Manor are taken care of by their very own elves.
These elves stitch stockings together and fill them with knick knacks and treats for the approximately 60 elderly residents.
“For each resident that doesn’t have family, we do a gift for them,” said Lila Petterson, president of the Prince Rupert Hospital Regional Auxiliary Society.
Those special residents give their ‘wish list’ to the auxiliary members, who then try to find the gift before Christmas day.
This year, some residents asked for a manicure kit, a photo of a fishing boat, and a poster of a basketball player. The later request has been proving to be the most difficult to locate, but the elves said they have a plan.
With 23 volunteer members, and with the help of the Quilters Club, almost anything is possible.
Inside the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, the auxiliary runs the gift shop where they sell knitted blankets, socks and toys, as well as snacks and drinks. Mid-December, the gift shop even had a few Christmas stockings for sale, but they were snatched up right away.
All the crafted items in the gift shop have been donated by members of the community to raise funds for improving patient care and hospital facilities. Many of the auxiliary members are aging themselves, and joined the society out of the goodness of their hearts.
“I think it gives you a good feeling to be able help out in some way. I think helping out the sick, the elderly is a great way to do it,” Petterson said.
One afternoon at the hospital, Petterson was working on her latest crochet project until the next customer approached the gift bar window. The woman pointed to a few knitted items here and there. Petterson deftly collected the items, took the woman’s money, and then sat back down. While this exchange may seem ordinary to some people, it’s incredible to watch her move with such grace and confidence despite being legally blind.
Diagnosed with glaucoma at 41 years old, her vision declined until she could no longer drive at age 58 — when she also decided to retire from her long-time gig as the city’s accountant.
But she didn’t remain idle for long. Eight years ago, she joined the Prince Rupert Hospital Auxiliary Society, where she fills her days and her heart.
Another member, Barbara Stewart, is a long-time member. She has been with the auxiliary since 1991 and fills the role of financial secretary.
“I love the older people. I’m getting closer there each time myself,” Stewart said.
Her mother spent three years in the hospital before Acropolis Manor, a long-term care home situated next to the hospital, was established. She feels comfortable being around the residents, and finds her visits rewarding.
“Monthly, they used to have birthday Bingo, at which time we would play Bingo and offer prizes and we always have a large cake. But now they’ve changed their concept and now they have pub afternoons, which is a lot of fun,” she said. There is still a birthday cake.
Aside from fulfilling wish lists during the Christmas season, the auxiliary also tries to fill requests.
Residents recently wrote to the auxiliary asking if they would think about donating to help purchase equipment for a drum circle. Members have agreed to purchase what they need up to $5,000.
“And that’s about our extent, but should they request us to help in any way we certainly would be there to help them,” Stewart said.
The gift shop, and the odd bake sale, help raise funds necessary to support such patient requests. On Dec. 7, a bake sale netted approximately $1,600.
Some other items the auxiliary has helped purchased by raising funds through the gift shop and the odd bake sale, include a $21,500 tower and scope for the ears, nose and throat specialist, and last year they donated $25,000 for two cardiac monitors.
For these elves, the giving never stops all year round. But bringing a little extra Christmas spirit to the city’s elderly this time of year is appreciated by all involved.
“Acropolis staff put a lot of effort into making the atmosphere and the holiday season as special as possible for the residents who call the facility home… from decorating throughout the Manor, to coordinating special events for residents to enjoy,” said Beth Evans, Acropolis manager. “We really appreciate, and our residents do as well, the Hospital Auxiliary’s contribution to making the season special.”