Christmas came early for the Veterans at Perley-Rideau

December 24, 2021 -  Defence Stories


Veteran at Perley-Rideau wearing a baseball hat and holding his stuffed animal.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A smile was put on the faces of Veterans at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre as they got their Christmas presents from Santa Claus and local NCR elves.

Staff from the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group (CAF TG), Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) came together to prepare and safely deliver 100 goodie bags and 12 nurse station bags.

Smiles for Seniors was launched 21 years ago by Major Darren Steele. He lived near a senior’s residence and it dawned on him that the residents probably felt alone during Christmas. So, he decided to spread some joy and deliver gifts to the senior’s home each Christmas. Sadly, Major Steele passed away in 2006 in a motorcycle accident. This annual tradition commemorates Major Steele and continues to spread cheer for Veterans during the holidays.

Several donors contributed to the success of Smiles for Seniors this year, including Giant Tiger (Walkley Road) who donated $800 worth of goods including body wash, toothpaste, nail files and clippers. Good Soldier Films chipped in with 100 Christmas bags, hand-sewed by Brigitte Kingsley and her mother. Good Soldier Films also provided stuffed animals, Christmas socks, puzzle books in large print and more.

The Ottawa Redblacks delivered over 100 baseball caps. École élémentaire publique Trille des Bois prepared 40 Christmas cards and candle decorations. CANEX Ottawa provided 12 CANEX bags for the nurse stations. TRIVIDA, Normandy Retirement Living, donated $400. MWO Sophie Nantais’ mother knitted 3 beautiful blankets for the seniors. Bona Building & Management parking provided free parking for the volunteers who prepared goodie bags at the Coventry building.

Last but not least, military and civilian personnel from CAF TG HQ, CFMWS, CAF Transition Unit NCR and VCDS group provided a total of $2,400 in donations and various collected goods. The Smiles for Seniors volunteers plan to continue this tradition for many years to come as our Veterans should forever be remembered for their service to the country.

“CAF TG, CFMWS and the VCDS Group have supported this program for a number of years now and seeing the gratitude from our Veteran residents and the nursing staff is always gratifying!” said Marie-France Langlois, Policy Manager, CAF TG. “This is even more so as residents and staff alike continue to cope with the ongoing pandemic.”


Tote bags filled with gifts.


Local NCR elves holding the gift bags ready to be delivered to Veterans.

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