More the Merrier 2023 made Christmas 500 times better
Why Christmas connections matter
The Christmas holidays are often the most painful time of year for those struggling with loneliness and isolation. That’s especially true for many seniors who have so many memories of joy filled holidays but now are achingly lonely. So, for the 5th year in a row, our More the Merrier campaign reached out to seniors who would otherwise have been alone, to support them to feel connected and to know they haven’t been forgotten.
Loneliness and Feros Care
For decades, our teams have worried about the loneliness they encounter in their work, and for the many seniors who have no one to talk or connect with. Research shows that more than one in three Australians are chronically lonely and that loneliness can be deadly. So, at Feros Care, we’ve made it our mission to help people live happy, healthy, better-connected lives, focussing our charitable activities on exactly that.
History behind the campaign
As with most traditional cultural holidays, Christmas symbolises togetherness, friends and family, connections, sharing, eating and celebrating together, gatherings and love. So, it’s no surprise that in the absence of these things, Christmas can be a painful time of year. Bereavement, friends and family moving away, physical impairment, a move into aged care – there are a myriad of reasons why older people are especially susceptible to loneliness at Christmas, deepened with the sharp contrast of memories of Christmases gone by. Through no fault of their own, they can become trapped in silent nights of the wrong kind. And that’s not right.
In 2019, we set about tackling loneliness especially at Christmas by making communities aware of the those who may be alone and finding a way to help as many as we could to feel connected and know that they hadn’t been forgotten. We called it ‘More the Merrier’ because we wanted to show that the More we do for others, the Merrier we all would be. And that helping someone out at Christmas is actually the best gift you can give yourself. It started off as a small campaign and 2023, our 5th year, was the biggest yet.
This years’ achievements
More the Merrier is all about creating connections for those who thought they would be alone. We ask community to nominate seniors who deserve our “hamperful of connections” and then hand deliver hampers of goodies, make social visits, distribute Christmas Cards and notes of friendship and host community events.
This year, more than 500 seniors felt the love of their community.
- 191 seniors received hand delivered hampers with a social visit
- More than 500 seniors received Christmas cards from members of the community, including school children
- 127 cards were delivered to Aged Care Village Residents
- 34 seniors attended More the Merrier lunches across the region
How the hampers come together
Bringing together 200 hampers is no mean feat – we do it ourselves to make the donations go further. With help from Woolworths Coolangatta, some beautiful donations of tea, courtesy of our favourite Madame Flavour teas, and biscuits from Byron Bay Cookie company, each hamper contained over 20 Christmas items to create a Christmas feast to remember. There were also cards, letters and handmade Christmas decorations. It took many carloads to ferry over 2,000 tins, cartons, boxes and packets to our Tweed Heads office for unloading, packing and re-loading for delivery out to our unsuspecting seniors.
“It’s been so wonderful!! I have loved catching up for a chat with all these lovely yet lonely people while delivering their hampers, engaging in the true meaning of Christmas.” – Nicola Rangely, Wellbeing Manager
The Feros elves at work
Our Christmas hamper recipients
Every day, Feros team members visit and care for older people at home and get to know them individually. So, when we ask them to nominate people facing a lonely Christmas to become More the Merrier recipients, there’s no shortage of names. In fact, this year there was a 50% increase in nominees raising our target to 200 hampers and 500 community connections through cards and friendship notes.
June receiving her hamper
“I could not believe it, I was in shock, I never get anything, I burst into tears I was so touched, thank you all so much.” – June
“I am 89 yrs old and lucky enough to have received one of your Christmas hampers. I felt like a kid again opening up the box. I really appreciate how lucky I am to be with Feros.” – Dorothy
“I would like to thank you for sending me a “Surprise Feros Christmas Box”, it was incredibly thoughtful of you. I really appreciated the thought especially now my kids live so far away & it’s getting harder with family, health & work schedules to get to catch up. Blessings on you all.” – Anonymous
Christmas Cards – a campaign highlight
Following the roaring success of 1,000 Notes of Friendship, in which Feros Care delivered 1000’s of letters written to seniors through COVID, we know how much seniors love receiving letters and cards from others, especially young children. In a More the Merrier adaptation, members of the community, school children, businesses and Feros teams are encouraged to send in Christmas cards and well wishes which we post, or hand deliver to seniors’ homes.
“I am particularly impressed with the childrens’ input. We had lots of fun reading all the letters and jokes. I would like to thank everyone individually but obviously, I am not in a position to do that, so, my sincere thanks to all at Feros” – Dorothy
Cards made and written by Banora Point Public School
Handwritten cards by customers at Jekyll and Hide Coffee Lab at Mudgeeraba
Proving our More the Merrier theme, the thrill that writers report from writing the cards is just as big as the delight of their recipients. Some families write cards as an annual Christmas activity. Organisations write cards as a ‘volunteering activity’. And our favourite is school writers, like Little Scholars School of Early Learning, Banora Point Primary School, Miami State Primary School and Byron Bay Community School who use card writing to bring children’s awareness to the issue of loneliness and the importance of community connections. There’s a lot of fun wrapped up in those cards, including jokes, poems, recipes and pictures of pets. Seniors love them and so do we.
“I really loved the two hand written cards plus a lovely a lovely Christmas dangling ornament, coloured in by a young school boy. Having children contributing in bringing pleasure to others is such a wonderful way of making stronger, caring communities.” – Helen
Little Scholars School of Early Learning Parkwood creating Christmas decorations for our More the Merrier seniors, as seen on 9 News Gold Coast.
We’d like to sincerely thank our supporters
More the Merrier would be impossible without the support of community, philanthropists and businesses. Thankfully, each year, support for More the Merrier grows, reflecting the difference it makes and the generosity of Feros Care’s networks. We would like in particular to thank the following –
Byron Bay Cookies
Businesses who donated $
Oh My Digital Agency Pty Ltd
Competent Fire Safety Professionals
Northernair Pty Ltd
Northern Rivers Gutter-Vac
Palm Beach Travel
Adelco Pty Ltd
Carestaff Nursing Services
F & G Malivindi
Vince Electrical and Air
James Frizelle Charitable Foundation
Schools who participated
Little Scholars School of Early Learning
Banora Point Public School
Byron Community School
Miami State Primary School
Rotary Club of Byron Bay
Jekyll and Hide Coffee Lab
And last but not least, the hundreds of individuals and families who donated $ and wrote Christmas cards and notes.
Loneliness is all year round.
Human beings are social creatures and without meaningful connections we simply wither. Statistics confirm that loneliness is at epidemic levels with devastating impacts on health and happiness. Feros Care’s mission to help people be better connected is ongoing and we can’t do that alone.
If like us, you don’t think anyone deserves to be lonely, we offer many ways for you to come with us on this journey to tackle loneliness together. Whether that’s considering leaving a gift in your will, volunteering for our companionship program In Great Company or becoming a corporate partner, talk to us about an option to suit you.