Seniors playing Santa

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 11, 2013

ST. CLAIR SHORES — In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes the ones who have made the season so bright in past years are forgotten.

But the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center is working with Home Instead Senior Care in Grosse Pointe Woods to make sure no senior citizen faces a Christmas with nothing under the tree.

This is the third year of the “Santa to a Senior” program at the center, where tags on a giving tree are paired with local senior citizens with no family nearby or residing in a nursing home.

“Their family is limited or they have no family, so maybe they’re not getting anything to unwrap at Christmastime,” said Senior Center Director Sue Fickau.

A week before the program wrapped up, Fickau said only about six tags remained on the tree. If any remain before the deadline, she said, staff members usually take care of the rest.

“We’ll make sure we fulfill our commitment to … Home Instead and the seniors,” Fickau said.

Marian Battersby, the owner of that franchise of Home Instead Senior Care — which serves southeastern Macomb County and the Grosse Pointes — said she thinks it is wonderful that the Senior Activity Center members help at this time of year.

“It is the senior community and … so they are giving back to people like themselves,” she said. “It’s a wonderful organization.”

Working with senior citizens throughout the year, Battersby said the Home Instead company across the U.S. makes giving back to the community a priority.

“We feel that seniors are often overlooked at the holidays,” she said.

The company gets names of those in need from local nursing homes or from its own client list.

“In a big nursing home, they’ll have parties and stuff like that, and for someone to have something to open is, I think, just a wonderful thing,” she said. “We do buy if we know a senior that we’re caring for that’s alone or to give some additional brightness at the holidays.”

Companywide, she said Home Instead Senior Care has given out about 800,000 gifts at the holidays since 2004.

“There are seniors, especially some of the ones that we care for, there’s family that’s maybe out of town or maybe they never had children so they’re alone out there in the world,” she said. “Or really, maybe they have nobody other than the folks at the nursing home to provide anything.”

Fickau said the program is a good match for the center.

“We don’t want to just continually take from people, so we can give back,” she said.