Spreading Christmas cheer: Be a Santa to a Senior

DOVER — Time remains to generously pluck a paper ornament from a designated tree, read the attached gift request and brighten a senior citizen’s life at Christmas time.

The 15th Be a Santa to a Senior program stretches throughout Kent and Sussex counties, with enough participating locations to likely require just a short drive to take part. Sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care, buying a gift as chosen from the tree on site and then returning to drop it off for an elderly recipient.

Some requests are as simple a box of tissues or a pair of slippers, a blanket or pharmacy gift card, according to the organizers. Buyers don’t need to wrap their gifts, since program volunteers will handle the packaging upon dropoff.

The late community activist Rae Short oversaw the program and boosted volunteerism by reaching out to various organizations to enlist their participation. (Delaware State News file photo)

For several years, late community activist Rae Short oversaw the program and boosted volunteerism by reaching out to nearby organizations to take part. First-year Kent and Sussex County chairperson Amy Ferguson-Moore said she still feels Ms. Short’s impact and high standard orchestrating the participation and distribution.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Ferguson-Moore said. “I began to work with her on it a bit last year and she left me with tons of information, thank goodness.”

Four wrapping parties in the Dover and Lewes areas were scheduled to handle the nearly 3,000 gifts received so far. The volunteers, predominately seniors themselves, get a true sense of the program’s impact during the gatherings.

“It’s a pretty awesome experience, even in the literal sense of the word,” Ms. Ferguson-Moore said. “At wrap parties some people get choked up when realize just how much of a benefit the items can be to someone’s life.”

Ms. Ferguson-Moore said she recently reached out to other entities that could benefit from the program, so more gift donations are needed to match the potential demand.

Participating locations include, among others:

• Patterson Schwartz, 140 Greentree Drive, Dover

• Gym Starz, 55 Commerce Way, Suite D, Dover

• Bridge Way Restaurant, 15 E. Glenwood Ave., Smyrna

• My Roots, 9 Loockerman St., Dover

• City of Dover Library, 35 E Loockerman Drive, Dover

• Harrington Police Department, 10 Mechanic St., Harrington

• Cape Henlopen Senior Center, 11 Christian St., Rehoboth Beach

• Remedy, 5 N Railroad Ave., Wyoming

• Harrington Fire Department, 20 Clark St., Harrington

• Breakthrough Personal Coaching, 1255 S State St Suite 10, Dover

• County Bank, 19927 Shuttle Road, Rehoboth Beach

• Rudy’s Diner, 17064 S Dupont Hwy., Harrington

• Kent County Levy Court, 555 S Bay Road, Dover

• Outlet Liquors 19724 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach

• Modern Maturity Center 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover

• Peebles 22970 Sussex Highway, Seaford

• Wireless Zone locations in Dover, Milford and Harrington

The deadline to take part is Monday. More than 41,000 local seniors have benefited from the program since it launched, Home Instead Senior Care said. There’s a special focus on those living alone (28 percent of people 65 or older, according to AARP) and potentially experiencing social isolation.

“Be a Santa to a Senior helps bring comfort and a smile to many seniors,” Dover Home Instead Senior Care spokesman Robert Ware said in a news release.

“It shows them that people care about them and see them as an important part of the community. Social isolation is a concern among seniors and the holidays often intensify feelings of distance and loneliness. When we deliver the gifts and spend some time with them, it makes a big difference.”

More information is available online at BeaSantatoaSenior.com or by calling 697-6435, option 7. Details on how to assists seniors experiencing social isolation are at imreadytocare.com.

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