Santas for PTBO Seniors Spreading Holiday Cheer

Hundreds of Peterborough seniors will have Christmas gifts this year thanks to Jay Lough Hayes and Joy Daniels

Founder and organizer Jay Lough Hayes during the first Santas for Peterborough Seniors campaign in 2012 (photo: kawarthaNOW)
Founder and organizer Jay Lough Hayes during the first Santas for Peterborough Seniors campaign in 2012 (photo: kawarthaNOW)

Christmas isn’t just for kids!

Just ask the approximately 350 seniors in Peterborough who will be waking up this Christmas morning to loads of gifts, thanks to Jay Lough Hayes and Joy Daniels from Peterborough Realty Inc., and their team of elves.

Last year Ms. Hayes helped another local woman spread holiday cheer to many seniors in our community, but that woman has since moved from the area. Ms. Hayes thought ‘This is far too important to not do.’

So she and Ms. Daniels coordinated the largest Christmas drive this area has seen for local seniors who have outlived family and friends this area has seen — and are already making plans for next year’s Santas for PTBO Seniors gift drive.

This year’s campaign began on Facebook. “We posted an ad on Facebook letting our friends know we need Christmas trees,” explains Hayes.

Three days later, they had five trees and several wreathes donated by Value Village. Then they needed a place to put these trees and wreathes, so through a postering campaign and a lot of word of mouth, local businesses stepped forward and agreed to house the trees dressed with tags. The Peterborough Police Station, Master Opticians, The WORKs Gourmet Burger Bistro, the Old Colonial Weaving Building and, of course, Peterborough Realty Inc. and several businesses around town opted to hang the wreathes.

Tags included the first name of a local senior and gift ideas for that senior
Tags included the first name of a local senior and gift ideas for that senior
For several days Ms. Hayes and Ms. Daniels called around to nursing homes, retirement residences, churches, and shelters and received countless calls from concerned community members gathering names and gift ideas of seniors who will be alone this Christmas. Tags including the senior’s first name only and their gift ideas were created by KawarthaFest and were hung on the trees and wreaths throughout the city.

Most gift lists included simple things like toiletries, candies, and socks. And the premise was so simple: take a tag and returned the wrapped gift with the name tag for distribution by Brinks to the nursing homes and shelters. Ms. Hayes and Ms. Daniels will deliver the individual gifts themselves to the seniors, who are still living in their own homes.

Most people who purchased gifts asked if they could deliver them personally, as they wanted to share in the joy and magic on Christmas morning. But, due to Ontario’s privacy legislation, the identity of the senior has to be protected. And it’s such a shame, really. If they were permitted to take that extra step and make that personal connection, it could possible lead to a friendship and a bond that would last throughout the years — improving the quality of lives of everyone involved by adding purpose and meaning and hope.

Once again, the members of this great city rallied together to help perfect strangers and never waivered in the spirit of the holiday. People brought in bags overflowing with beautifully wrapped gifts not only for the seniors, but for their four-legged furry friends as well. Numerous businesses and organizations donated cash just in case, to make sure that there were enough presents for everyone on the list.

“It’s just been so much fun!” exclaims Ms. Hayes. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and can’t wait to start on next year’s event.

So, on Christmas morning, hundreds of Peterborough seniors will be blessed by the thoughtfulness of two incredible women and the generosity of an entire community.

For more information about Santas for PTBO Seniors, visit

All photos by Tammy Simon