Christmas spirit . . . Altrusa members (from left) Helen Newlands, Jenny Cleland and Lyn Cartwright prepare to wrap, tag and collect presents for the group's Be Santa to a Senior initiative. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Altrusa Oamaru is asking for the community’s help to spread some Christmas cheer this year.

The service club is hosting its Be a Santa to a Senior initiative for the fifth consecutive year, collecting gifts for rest›home residents who receive no Christmas presents.

Altrusa contacted Oamaru rest› homes asking if there were any residents who would receive no family visitors or gifts on Christmas Day, and what their Christmas wishes were.

Those requests were then written on tags and attached to a Christmas tree at Oamaru Pharmacy. Members of the public are asked to take a tag, buy the requested item, and place it, with its tag, in a box under the tree.

Altrusa members then wrap any unwrapped gifts and distribute them to the rest›homes for residents to open on Christmas Day.

Be a Santa to a Senior co›ordinator Helen Newlands said over the past five years, requests had ranged from farming photos and cushions, to a radio and clothing.

‘‘It’s the personal things,’’ Mrs Newlands said.

Across six rest›homes in Oamaru, 38 residents received gifts last year thanks to the initiative.

‘‘It’s just nice that those that are sometimes the forgotten ones who have no family actually receive something.’’

Altrusa Oamaru member Lyn Cartwright said everybody, no matter who they were, deserved to feel loved and and receive a gift at Christmas time.

‘‘Everybody should have something,’’ Mrs Cartwright said.

Mrs Newlands came up with the idea after hearing about a similar initiative in Texas when attending an Altrusa conference in the United States.

The Oamaru Pharmacy Christmas tree, decorated with the gift request tags, went up today. All gifts need to be left at the pharmacy by December 17.