‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ hopes to warm hearts of isolated NC elderly during pandemic

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 has isolated the elderly more than ever before. That’s why Home Instead Senior Care is asking the public to help provide seniors with Christmas gifts they might not otherwise receive.

“This is a way for us to say, ‘Hey you’re not forgotten. We still care. There are still people out here thinking about you.’ It’s just a time to honor them,” said Nancy Foss, Community Service Representative at Home Instead.

The organization set up Christmas trees at different locations around the Triangle for its Be a Santa to a Senior program. The trees feature paper ornaments with a senior’s name and requested gifts. Would-be Santas would then purchase those items and return them back to the store unopened. A representative from Home Instead picks them up for gift wrapping and eventual delivery.

The gifts will be delivered by the senior’s social worker or through their nursing home if they reside in on.

Foss said the gifts allow needs to be met and but also let receivers know someone cares about them.

“It’s going to be people they’re already seeing but they’re going to know somebody out there loves them and somebody out there is thinking of them,” said Foss.

Home Instead has teamed up with Amazon to allow items to be purchased online. Santas can enter their zip code for a list of area seniors. They would then browse wish lists and make purchases online.

Foss said there are very few “luxury” items. Most people are wishing for toiletries, socks, or other practical necessities.

“It is my favorite time of the year, Christmas in general. There’s so much out there for kids and other needy people, those are so important, but our seniors’ve given so much to society. Now they’re at the time maybe they’re not giving what we think is vital but it is. Their lives are still so vital and important,” said Foss.

Gifts typically range from $10 and up but buyers can decide how much they’re willing to spend,” said Foss.

Along with items for individuals, the program is also collecting items for assisted living homes like puzzle books or crayons.

“I’ve spoken to some of the assisted living centers. A lot of them are still not able to have family come in or they’re just having it virtual. It’s been really difficult. I think the senior population- because they’re such a high risk, their isolation’s much more felt,” said Foss.

There are still about 30 names that need to be fulfilled. With the help of businesses allowing trees in their buildings, Santas willing to help, and the community, those can be completed.

“My heart is so overwhelmed with the generosity of people. Especially this year, we know a lot of people are hurting because of COVID and they are still reaching out,” Foss said.

Be a Santa to a Senior tree locations: 

  • Atria Oakridge, 10810 Sandy Oak Ln, Raleigh
  • Cadence Living at Wake Forest, 3218 Heritage Rd, Wake Forest
  • Charron’s Deli & Café, 120 E. Main St., Youngsville
  • Culver’s, 2819 Rogers Rd, Wake Forest
  • Home Centric, 337 Crossroads Blvd., Cary
  • Starbucks, 180 Cabela Dr., Garner
  • Starbucks, 3608 Davis Dr., Morrisville
  • Starbucks, 9630 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 9441 Strickland Rd., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 6176 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 6282 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 7498 Creedmoor Rd., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 10760 Wakefield Commons Dr., Raleigh
  • Starbucks, 2815 Rogers Rd., Wake Forest
  • Treeo Senior Living, 2722 Spring Forest Rd., Raleigh
  • Upchurch Drug and Gift Shoppe (5108 N. Roxboro St., Durham)
  • C&H Cafeteria (1720 Guess Rd., Durham)

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