This season, holiday shoppers in Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin and Johnson counties can give cheer to area seniors by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior program.
The program – run by the local Home Instead Senior Care office in partnership with Union Federal Credit Union, area retailers, volunteers and members of the community – helps ensure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship during the holidays. This can be a difficult time for many, especially those who live alone or have lost spouses and loved ones.
An estimated 27 percent of people 65 and older (10.8 million people) are widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Further, the Administration on Aging reports about 28 percent (11.8 million) non-institutionalized people 65 and older live alone.
Retailers participating in Be a Santa to a Senior will display Christmas trees from Nov. 25 to Dec. 16 that feature ornaments with seniors’ first names and their gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament from these trees, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped to the store, with the ornament attached.
Be a Santa to a Senior trees will be located at local United Federal Credit Union branches.
The local Home Instead Senior Care office will enlist volunteers from its staff, senior-care business associates, non-profit workers and others to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts to local seniors who might otherwise spend the holiday alone.
“Be a Santa to a Senior gives back to older adults in our area, many of whom have had significant, positive influence on our lives,” said Jonathan Fry, owner at the local Home Instead Senior Care office. “During this season of giving, we encourage shoppers to buy a little extra to say thank you to these community members.”