Holidays are a time filled with love, joy and happiness for most, but it’s a time that reminds some people of their loneliness.
That’s the case for many of who live in Pines of Sarasota, Springwood Nursing Center and Mcintosh Manor. Home Instead Senior Care is stepping up for the 14th year to spread the holiday spirit to seniors in need through its Be A Santa To A Senior program.
“The Be a Santa to a Senior program is all about including seniors in the joy of the holiday season,” David Hoops, owner of the Sarasota Home Instead Senior Care, said in a release. “A simple gift shows them they are a loved and vital member of our community.”
The hot ticket items on the seniors lists aren’t about glitz and glam, but rather things they're unable to afford for themselves like a new nightgown or body soap.
"It's kind of heartbreaking because a lot [the seniors], ask for a sweatsuit, or one nightgown, or one crossword puzzle book," said Chazsady Davis, director of sales and human resources.
Little white and green paper ornaments with senior names and their gift lists can be found on one of the nine trees stationed throughout the Sarasota area.
Gifts should be returned to the location unwrapped with the ornament taped to it. The organization expects around 2,000 gifts to be collected through Dec. 15.
Each senior receives between five and seven gifts even if they only included one or two items on their list, Davis said.
The Sarasota Home Instead chapter joined the Santa to a Senior program in 2005, after it began in Omaha, Neb, in 2003. Since joining the program nearly 30,000 seniors have been helped in northern Sarasota.
Volunteers come together between Dec. 15 and Dec. 23 to deliver the gifts to the senior homes. But Davis said, it’s about more than the gifts to the seniors.
“[The program] brings back memories from the seniors growing up around the holidays. For a lot of them, it reminds them of their their friends and every or their family and friends, which can bring happiness,” Davis said. “They look forward to us coming in, not just for the gifts, but for our presence.”