Santa program brings holiday joy to metro seniors

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Christmas shopping season is officially here and one local organization hopes to bring joy to one specific group of people.

Be a Santa to a Senior program brings holiday joy to metro elders.

The seniors living at the Florence Home are looking forward to Christmas. They usually find joy in the simple things because, for many, it can be lonely around the holidays.

Florence resident Gail Rabe said, “There’s not a whole lot of things that make you feel good when you’re alone.”

Each year, the Home Instead senior care Be a Santa to a Senior program helps to brighten Christmas for seniors living in homes across the metro.

“A lot of the seniors we serve through this program are either homebound or they live in facilities within the community,” said Erin Albers, VP of Social Purpose with Home Instead Senior Care. “But a lot of them are low income, living in poverty and a lot of times, have no social connection with people.”

Through the program, seniors request gifts they want for Christmas. “A lot of what they’re asking for is very basic,” Albers said. “It’s toilet paper, it’s stamps. I saw that one senior wanted a fruitcake because every single year growing up as a child they had a fruitcake at Christmastime. And so, receiving a fruitcake reminded her of her mom and dad.”

The program needs your help in filling the gift requests. You can find "Be a Santa to a Senior" trees at 10 locations across the metro.

Here’s how it works: you pick an ornament off the tree, purchase the items, and then drop off the gifts, unwrapped.

“A lot of them don’t have family,” said Jen Smith, the Activities Director for Florence Home Health Care. “And they worked and served in our community, and for our community to give back to them, it just means the world to us.”

For a list of tree locations as well as additional program information, visit the Be a Santa to a Senior website.