Originally Published: December 13, 2009 9:58 p.m.
The popular campaign that in the past five years delivered more than 300 gifts per year to local seniors is in full swing again this holiday season.
Area businesses and retailers, along with agencies that serve older adults, have partnered with a local senior-care service to make sure that isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship through the "Be a Santa to a Senior" program.
Home Instead Senior Care has joined local nonprofit associations, along with area retailers and businesses, to provide presents to seniors who otherwise might not receive a gift this holiday season.
Nonprofit associations contributing names of isolated and needy seniors are: People Who Care in Prescott and Chino Valley; Prescott Meals on Wheels; NAU's Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion Program; Northern Arizona Council of Governments-Area on Aging; Parkinson's Association; Northern Arizona VA Health System; Casa de Pinos retirement housing; and the Senior Peer Program of West Yavapai Guidance Clinic.
"'Be a Santa to a Senior' is a great way to give back to the older adults in the community during the hectic holiday season when many are forgotten," said Susan Abbott, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Yavapai County. "The holiday is often considered a time for children, but seniors - especially those who are isolated and lonely - need to be remembered as well. 'Be a Santa to a Senior' is also designed to help stimulate human contact and social interaction for older adults who are unlikely to have guests during the holidays."
Here is how the program works: Prior to the holiday season, participating local nonprofit organizations identified isolated seniors in the community and provided names to Home Instead Senior Care. Sponsored Christmas trees will feature wish ornaments with only the first name of the seniors and their respective gift requests.
Holiday shoppers can pick up an ornament, buy an item or items on the list and return them unwrapped to the store, along with the ornament attached to the tree, no later than Dec. 16.
Home Instead Senior Care then enlists the volunteer help of its staff, senior-care business associates, nonprofit workers and this year, members of Preceptor Alpha Delta Sorority, to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts for seniors.
Organizers have scheduled an area-wide gift-wrapping day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, at Prescott United Methodist Church, 505 W. Gurley St.
Anyone interested in participating in the gift-wrapping day should contact Ann Weaver, community service representative, at 928-708-9960.
Additional information about the program is available at www.beasantatoasenior.com.