Much of the attention at Christmas is on little kids, all giddy with excitement over bright lights, Santa and new toys.
But the local office of a national senior care group is making sure the area’s older citizens aren’t forgotten during a time that can often be difficult for them.
The Home Instead Senior Care network’s Be a Santa to a Senior program, now in its 16th year, is a community-fueled program that makes sure older people who might be isolated from family or friends get a little love during the holidays.
Earlier in November, the company’s Wake County office provided area businesses — including Starbucks, Raleigh Geriatrics, Brier Creek Orthodontics, Culver’s and Trinity Partners — with trees adorned with ornaments listing the first name of a senior and a gift suggestion. All charitable-minded shoppers have to do is select ornaments, purchase gifts and return them to the businesses for volunteers to wrap and deliver.
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Over the past 15 years, more than 4,500 local seniors have received 50,000 gifts through the program.
Nancy Foss of the Raleigh Home Instead office said that even though gift collection officially ends Friday (Dec. 7), they won’t know until early next week if they have enough presents for the 424 seniors on their list.
There are two ways the group could still use your help: presents or cash dropped off at their Raleigh office, or a little gift-wrapping labor.
If you want to help make sure there are enough gifts, Foss said folks can drop off new items at their office at 164 Wind Chime Court by noon on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Suggested items are toiletries, socks and blankets. Foss will do the shopping to fill any gift gaps, so cash or Walmart gift cards are also helpful.
If you’d like to wrap, there’s a wrapping party on Thursday, Dec. 13, starting at 9 a.m. at the Home Instead office. All the wrapping supplies will be provided, plus snacks and visit from Santa.
Home Instead Senior Care partners with the Wake County agency Resources for Seniors to identify those in need. This year, 424 seniors are on Santa’s list and they’ll receive all the gifts on their wish list.. Seniors living in 131 homes across Wake County will receive gifts, as well as seniors in one rehab center and four assisted living communities.
Foss accompanies Santa each year on a delivery to one of the assisted living centers. “They hear the ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and see Santa and their faces light up,” Foss said. “Some of them want to open all of the presents right then and some want to save them until Christmas. For many of them, that’s all they’re getting.”
Foss recalled one woman who received a gift of pajamas last year and was so excited she immediately put them on over her clothes.
“A lot of them have lost so much already and they’re feeling isolated and lonely, so this is a great way Home Instead reaches out, and I’m very proud to be part of that,” Foss said.