People participating in Be a Santa to a Senior can go online to view wish lists  and give gifts to seniors.

People participating in Be a Santa to a Senior can go online to view wish lists and give gifts to seniors.

Photo provided by Home Instead Senior Care


Be a Santa to a Senior this holiday season

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 19, 2020

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — This year has been challenging for everyone, and at a time when it may be more important than ever, Home Instead Senior Care’s seasonal favorite, Be a Santa to a Senior, is returning with new ways for the community to participate in helping seniors enjoy the holidays.

Stephanie Aldridge, the program manager, said the program brings the holidays to seniors who might feel alone due to financial challenges and COVID-19.

“The Be a Santa to a Senior program spreads holiday cheer by delivering gifts to older adults who are alone or financially challenged and might otherwise go without any gifts or visitors during the holidays. This year, due to concerns about the pandemic, these seniors may be feeling even more isolated, and the need to remember them is more important than ever,” said Aldridge.

Program coordinators evaluated the holiday program and made adjustments with the safety of donors, seniors and volunteers in mind. With Macomb County seniors more isolated than ever because of concerns due to the virus, for the first time in the program’s 17-year history, Home Instead is teaming up with Amazon Business to create a contactless gift-giving experience for volunteers and recipients.

“The Be a Santa to a Senior program brings so much joy to seniors in our community,” said Kerry Pareja, owner of the Home Instead office serving Macomb County. “We’ve all felt isolated at some point during the pandemic, but seniors are especially at risk of feeling isolated, and a simple gift can show them that we are thinking of them. And that’s more important this year than ever.”

Be a Santa to a Senior relies on the support of the local community, volunteers, businesses, nonprofit organizations and retailers.

This is the ninth year the Macomb office has participated in this national program, which has reached 750,000 seniors across the country.

“We need the community’s help more than ever to make sure our seniors feel connected this year,” said Pareja. “With all that’s happened this year, we knew we had to find a way to reach those seniors with some holiday cheer, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”

Members of the community can visit BeASantatoaSenior.com and enter their ZIP code to view wish lists for local seniors on Amazon Business through Dec. 18. A personalized greeting can be included with the gift, which will be delivered to the senior.

“Typically, the gift requests are for essential items — like socks, blankets or toiletries — which make a big impact and help area seniors beat the holiday blues. The requests vary, but there may be a few such items for each senior,” said Aldridge.

Since the nationwide program’s creation in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided approximately 2.1 million gifts.

“We’ve all felt a little alone or overwhelmed at some point, especially this year during the pandemic. Be a Santa to a Senior is a chance for our community to support those in our community who can really use it right now. These gifts and a brief visit bring smiles to faces — the seniors and our volunteers — and that is what the holidays are all about,” said Aldridge.

For more information about the program, visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call (586) 992-0100.

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