Thanks to ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program developed by Home Instead Health Care, lonely seniors might be visited by Santa for the 12th year in a row.
The local franchise from Merrillville has a database with almost 400 senior citizens who are going to spend their holidays alone. The list has been put together with the help of local churches, adult day cares, senior centers and housing facilities.
Community service representative Aimee Schallenkamp explains that Home Instead is trying to connect each of those old folks with a volunteer secret Santa.
The role of the volunteer Santa is to send some gifts to the senior. On the seniors’ wishlist there are things like blankets, toiletries, bath towels, diabetic socks and non-perishable food.
Home Instead has placed what they call “angel trees” in 11 locations in Merrillville area. Each tree contains paper ornaments with a senior’s wish. Any person who wants to make a wish come true this holiday season can pick up one of the wishes. After purchasing the gift, they can return it to the tree or directly to Home Instead’s office.
The angel trees have been installed on November 16 and they will continue to collect gifts until December 16 to give enough time for the gifts to be delivered to the seniors by a man dressed up as Santa.
The gifts will be delivered by the Santa with the help of Superior Ambulance who provides the transportation.
This year the Be a Santa to a Senior program has also partnered with the charitable organization Meals on Wheels so that people who would rather donate money than purchasing things will have the occasion to make a donation. According to Schallenkamp, each donation of $23.50 feeds a senior five meals. Envelopes for donations can be found on the angel trees and they can be mailed to Meals on Wheels.
You can find more information about Be a Santa to a Senior program on their webpage – beasantatoasenior.com. There you can also read the story of Mary, a 87-year-old lady from a local nursing facility where the program’s volunteers have distributed gifts in 2006. Coming back the following year, they found the card from Be a Santa to a Senior on Mary’s bulletin board. It seems that it was the only card and the only gift that Mary has received during that year.
Over the last 6 years the program has attracted over 60,000 volunteers and provided about 1.2 million gifts to almost 700,000 seniors.
Image source: screen capture