Be A Santa To A Senior is a community service program that provides a gift to seniors who may be isolated and alone in the Brainerd lakes area community. This year, with the added pandemic, seniors are more isolated than ever. The program delivers holiday joy and cheer.
The Be a Santa to a Senior program runs across the United States annually, coordinated by Home Instead. The program draws more than 60,000 volunteers and has delivered over 2 million gifts nationwide. The program was started in the Brainerd lakes area in 2008 by Deb Cranny at Home Instead.
Serious consideration was given to suspend the program in 2020 due to the added risk of COVID-19 exposures, officials reported. The community, Home Instead staff members and members of the Lakes Area Memory Awareness Advocates decided this was not the year to miss. This year, 494 gifts were delivered on Dec. 21 by 38 volunteers. Along with the Home Instead staff, two more volunteers coordinated and organized the gifts by location and ensured all 494 gifts were accounted for.
The program is a community event that included people who provided the names of deserving seniors, the businesses that hosted trees for picking up ornaments and dropping off gifts, the volunteers that delivered and the seniors of the community.
1/5: Volunteer Lori Thompson (left) and Deb Cranny, Executive Director of Home Instead, load a car with presents Monday, Dec. 21, in Baxter. The gifts were part of the 394 that were delivered this week by 38 volunteers and Home Instead staff as part of the Be A Santa To A Senior program. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
2/5: Angie Brickweg, Client Care Coordinator with Home Instead, (left), Katelin Hohertz, Client and Care Giver Experience Director, and Teresia Mortenson, volunteer, carry gifts outside the Home Instead office in Baxter Monday, Dec. 21, during the 13th annual Be a Santa To A Senior drive. Despite the pandemic, 394 packages were delivered by 38 volunteers and the Home Instead staff. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
3/5: Deb Cranny, Executive director of Home Instead (left) and volunteer Chad Hansen carry packages out side of the office Monday, Dec. 21, in Baxter. Volunteers and staff delivered 394 presents as part of the Be A Santa To A Senior program. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
4/5: Angie Brickweg, Client Care Coordinator, (left), Katelin Hohertz, Client and Care Giver Experience Director and Deb Cranny, Executive Director of Home Instead, carry presents Monday, Dec. 21, during the Be A Santa To A Senior drive at their Baxter office. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
5/5: Deb Cranny, Executive Director of Home Instead, (left), Angie Brickweg, Client Care Coordinator, and Katelin Hohertz, Client and Care Giver Experience Director, sort through presents Monday, Dec. 21, during the Be A Santa To A Senior drive this week. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
I was raised on a farm in western Minnesota where I participated in 4-H, high school sports, and everything that farm kids do for fun after chores. Graduated from Ridgewater Community College with an AA degree and my first taste of newspapering. I worked a summer on the Ortonville Independent as a reporter and photographer.