“Be A Santa To A Senior” Brings Holiday Cheer To Local Senior Citizens
During the holidays, seniors might have a harder time seeing family and enjoying the season than others in the community. A program in the area is working to make their holidays a little brighter.
“Christmas is a time where we typically think of families, children, and this has really benefited the people that are elderly, so many that are alone, and it’s just brightened their lives,” said Lori Thompson, Crow Wing County Licensed Social Worker.
The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program distributes gifts to area seniors who may not otherwise receive Christmas gifts.
“We get names of seniors that may be alone during the holiday season, may not get another gift during the holiday season,” explained Deb Cranny, Home Instead Senior Care Executive Director.
The names are written on tags along with a gift idea and are displayed on Christmas trees at various locations around the community. The gifts can be dropped off at 11 different locations across town through December 12. The program began in 2003 and is put on by Home Instead Senior Care.
“We get them wrapped. We get it organized, and on December 18 this year there will be 416 gifts delivered to seniors in our community,” said Cranny.
Over the last 15 years the program has been running, over 700,000 seniors’ holidays were brightened across the country.
“To see them just get that one gift at Christmas just lights up their lives,” added Thompson.
“Their wishes are so simple, and I just think that speaks to that generation. The holidays are truly more steeped in tradition,” said Crow Wing County Community Services Case Manager Paula Armagost. “I just think it’s really important. It means a lot to them.”
According to the organizers, the impact that the program has is immeasurable.
“I think seniors, a little bit, get ignored during the holidays. We have a lot of things for kids, which are great, and seniors don’t demand much so they literally get overlooked. So it’s just a great way – someone anonymously appearing at their door to say Merry Christmas,” added Cranny.
“The need continues to grow year after year, and I just think that that speaks in itself why it’s so important for people to consider this and reach out to seniors that have given to us their whole lives,” said Armagost. “It’s time to pay back.”
The “Be a Santa to a Senior” Christmas trees in Brainerd can be found at Black Bear Lodge, the three Caribou Coffee locations, Edward Jones, Guide Point Pharmacy, Home Instead Senior Care, Riverwood Bank, Crow Wing County Social Services, and The Center.