Gift program hopes to brighten local seniors' Christmas
It's like a Christmas bonus. Officially, the deadline to provide gifts to the Brainerd lakes area "Be a Santa to a Senior" program is Wednesday, Dec. 12, but donations will be accepted until end of business hours Friday. "We will take gifts the r...
It's like a Christmas bonus.
Officially, the deadline to provide gifts to the Brainerd lakes area "Be a Santa to a Senior" program is Wednesday, Dec. 12, but donations will be accepted until end of business hours Friday.
"We will take gifts the rest of the week," said Deb Cranny, executive director of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Brainerd.
The program has helped thousands of area seniors in its 10 years, according to Morgan Schlueter of Home Instead Senior Care, with almost 400 seniors last year receiving gifts.
"What's compelling about it is often during the holidays our seniors get a little bit ignored," Cranny said.
"They are possibly home alone-family may not be close. They might be unable to travel or get out, so the purpose of these gifts are for seniors that may not get another gift or may not have a visitor during the holiday season."
According to AARP, about 28 percent of people age 65 or older live alone, and have fewer relatives and friends to provide company and care, which can lead to social isolation. The holidays can be especially difficult for those living independently and may be lonely.
"Be a Santa to a Senior helps bring comfort and a smile to many seniors. It shows them that people care about them and see them as an important part of the community," Cranny said.
Be a Santa to a Senior is an annual program with support from local businesses, nonprofits, retailers, volunteers and community members. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices have partnered with several local retailers and nonprofits to help with gift collection and distribution.
"Social isolation is a concern among seniors and the holidays often intensify feelings of distance and loneliness. When we deliver the gifts and spend some time with them, it makes a big difference," Cranny said.
Go to one of the participating locations listed below and look for the Be a Santa to a Senior tree on display until Wednesday. Each tree will be decorated with ornaments featuring seniors' first names and their desired gifts.
"The interesting thing is the gift recipient doesn't write down the suggestions of what to receive; they don't even know their name's on the tree. Their names are suggested by others that feel like this is a person that deserves an anonymous gift," Cranny said.
Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached.
"The gift suggestions are very, very simple. We have suggestions for hats and mittens and lotion and shampoo. We got one in that requested denture cream, you know? It's just very basic needs, nothing elaborate," Cranny said.
There's no need to worry about wrapping-community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays.
"Delivery of the gifts to seniors is actually Tuesday the 18th-and we need Monday to wrap everything up-so Friday by 4:30 p.m. is our drop-dead deadline," Cranny said.
With the help of more than 60,000 volunteers across the nation, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided over 2 million gifts nationally to deserving seniors.
"We're always excited to see how much Be a Santa to a Senior boosts seniors' spirits during the holiday season. And we are grateful to be a part of a community that comes together to make this happen," Cranny said.
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Neb., the Home Instead Senior Care network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families-from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer's care and hospice support.
For more information about the Be a Santa to a Senior program, visit www.BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call 218-824-0077.
Be a Santa to a Senior tree locations
• Edward Jones - Greg Bennett, 406 W. Washington St., Suite 3, Brainerd.
• The Center, 803 Kingwood St., Brainerd.
• Caribou Coffee, 15175 Edgewood Drive, Baxter.
• Black Bear Lodge and Saloon, 14819 Edgewood Drive, Baxter.
• Home Instead Senior Care, 108 S. Sixth St., Brainerd.
• GuidePoint Pharmacy, 20 W. Main St., Crosby.
• Caribou Coffee, 425 Eighth Ave. NE, Brainerd.
• GuidePoint Pharmacy, 108 S. Sixth St., Suite 1, Brainerd
• Crow Wing County Community Services, 204 Laurel St., Brainerd.
• Coffee and Bagels, 14199 Edgewood Drive, Baxter.
• Riverwood Bank, 14540 Dellwood Drive, Baxter.