The Auxiliary Gift Shop on Wheels

If you talk to some of the longer-serving members of the Auxiliary to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, one of the things you will learn is that they used to have a gift shop cart that went around to each room in Long-term Care, offering magazines, books, treats and personal items. It was discontinued, for a number of reasons, at least 15 years ago, but, as so often happens, everything old is new again.

Last March, COVID changed so many things for all of us, but for the Auxiliary, it was devastating. The gift shop had to close and all of the volunteer activities they host were stopped. No more birthday parties for residents in Long-term Care, no more sing-a-longs and no more visits. Auxiliary President Jean Van Wyk and her team decided something had to be done.

Gift Shop Convener Sue Hayes began investigating and that took her to Anne Casey, a member of the Activation team in Long-term Care. They came up with the idea of bringing back the “gift shop on wheels”. Starting in November of 2020 the cart began making the rounds of Long-term Care, filled with personal items, treats and some other surprises. It started with a once a month visit, but that soon became twice a month. According to Sue, “residents have a little money to spend on themselves, and during the pandemic, it was starting to burn a hole in their pockets!” When asked what the most popular items are, she said that small comfort purchases like slippers and jewelry are very popular. People always seem to need some toothpaste or deodorant, and many residents like a good word search gamebook. And most surprisingly, stuffed animals became very popular during the pandemic. Sue says that the residents are always happy to see Anne Casey coming with the cart. “We are so happy to prepare the cart, and residents are very happy to have visits with Anne, who takes the cart around while we Auxiliary members can’t be on the Unit,” she says. “Like many of us, residents are likely starved for a bit of good conversation.”

The gift shop has had some openings over the months – during the Christmas shopping season and now on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, but it is still not open to the public. The Auxiliary has taken a big hit to their revenue with the gift shop closed, but donations have filled in some of the gap. Regardless, they still have big plans to support the Saanich Peninsula Hospital with purchases of equipment. If you’d like to help these hard-working members of the community in these challenging times (not all members are women, by the way!), just go to and click on the “donate” button.

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With gratitude we respectfully recognize and acknowledge that the Saanich Peninsula Hospital & Healthcare Foundation offices
are located on the traditional unceded territories of the WSÁNEĆ and Lekwungen peoples.

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