Each year Home Instead Senior Care offices, including the one in Mentor, spread holiday cheer to homebound, lonely or financially-challenged seniors through the Be a Santa to a Senior program.
Since introducing the program, Home Instead Senior Care has helped provide 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 seniors nationwide.
Just in Lake County, the program has attracted more than 2,500 volunteers during the past nine years of wrapping and distributing gifts to deserving seniors.
Home Instead Senior Care partners with local nonprofit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season.
The company then works with local businesses and retail stores to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts by placing trees and ornaments within various locations.
Each senior's gift requests are written on a Be a Santa to a Senior tree ornament.
Volunteers and staff collect, wrap, and deliver the gifts to the seniors.
This years program started mid October by collecting senior’s names. Trees were placed in the various locations, throughout the county in the middle of November with gift collection taking place through mid-December.
In Mentor, the participating businesses Jenniffer & Co., Great Lakes Mall, Key Bank, Giant Eagle and Walmart.
Volunteers then gathered Friday at Golden Living Centers in Kirtland to wrap and deliver the gifts.
Between this year and last, Home Instead took about 650 names of seniors in Lake County from agencies such as Lake County Council on Aging, Catholic Charities and various senior centers.
Additionally, Girl Scout Troop 585 volunteered by setting up the Christmas trees with the ornaments in each of the locations. The troop and students will also participate by delivering the gifts to some of the seniors in the community.
“What a nice surprise for a senior to open their door and, unexpectedly, find a girl scout on their doorstep with a gift. So many seniors feel forgotten, this is such a wonderful program that lets each senior know they are thought of and loved,” said Lisa Anaya-Widlits of Home Instead Senior Care.
“The most important part of the program is the time spent with the senior who may not have visitors this time of year,” she added.
“The holidays are the most difficult time of year for many senior citizens largely because they have no families and few friends, or have outlived their loved ones,” said Therese Glorioso, the president of the Lake, Geauga and Portage county Home Instead Senior Care offices.
“Most people aren’t aware that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of seniors in every community who have no family and are alone," Glorioso said.
To be involved with the Be A Santa To A Senior program next year, contact the local Home Instead Senior Care office at 440-257-5800.