The campaign that for the past nine years delivered more than 4,000 gifts to local needy seniors is being planned again this holiday season.
Area 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.
The Portage County office of Home Instead Senior Care has teamed with local Portage County senior agencies to provide presents to seniors who otherwise might not receive a gift this holiday season.
"Be a Santa to a Senior each year sets new records in contributions of gifts to a group that often is forgotten during the hectic holiday season," said registered nurse Therese Kovatch, president of Home Instead Senior Care office serving Portage County. "While children are the beneficiaries of many holiday programs, people often don't think about the isolated and lonely seniors who need to be remembered as well during this season. Be a Santa to a Senior also is designed to help stimulate human contact and social interaction for older adults who are unlikely to have guests during the holidays."
Prior to the holiday season, participating local nonprofit organizations identify financially needy and isolated seniors and provide those names to Home Instead Senior Care.
The name and gift request of each senior are written on an ornament and then placed on Christmas trees located throughout Portage County including The Ravenna Athletic Center, Curves, M&J Medical Supply and Emeritus in Ravenna; The Arctic Squirrel in Kent; Kent/Ravenna Walmart; senior centers in Ravenna, Streetsboro and Aurora; Aurora Premium Outlets; Dr. Tomko's Office; Portage Home Health; Excalibur Auto Body; and Crossroads Hospice.
Holiday shoppers can pick up an ornament, buy items on the list, and return them unwrapped to the store, along with the ornament attached. Home Instead Senior Care then enlists volunteers help to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts. A citywide gift-wrapping day, when hundreds of the presents will be wrapped, will be held early in December.
For more information on how to help a needy senior, contact Annette Balis, community service representative for Home Instead Senior Care, at 330-995-1522. Donations may sent be to Home Instead, in care of "Be a Santa to a Senior," 215 W. Garfield Road, Suite 270, Aurora, OH 44202.
For more information about the program, visit www.beasantatoasenior.com.
Gearing up for the Be a Santa to a Senior" program are, from left, Lisa Little, nurse case manager Home Instead Senior Care; Theresa Dash, human resource manager; Annette Balis, community service representative; and Joan Penix, staffing coordinator.