'Be a Santa' Program delivers presents to the elderly throughout region
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"It is often said that 'Christmas is for children,' but we want to make sure our seniors aren't overlooked," said Lucy Novelly of the "Be a Santa to a Senior" program that kicks off tomorrow.
"There are several wonderful programs that help provide presents for children, but many seniors need things as well ... the holidays are for them too," she said.
Ms. Novelly is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care franchise locations in South Hills and Washington. Home Instead Senior Care, a for profit company, provides non-medical care services to senior citizens living in their homes.
If you want to "Be a Santa for a Senior," visit one of these locations in the South Hills:
• Washington Crown Center, 1500 W. Chestnut St., Washington
• Oxford Management Company (Home Instead Senior Care office location, main lobby), 2000 Oxford Drive, Bethel Park
• Wondrous Luxuries in Lebanon Shops, Mt. Lebanon Blvd., Castle Shannon
• Century III Mall, 3075 Clairton Road in West Mifflin,
• Walgreens stores at 133 W. Eighth Ave., Homestead, and 4 Old Clairton Road, Pleasant Hills
Times and dates vary; check individual stores.
All of the Home Instead Pittsburgh locations are partnering with numerous nonprofit agencies and retail stores to ensure that senior citizens here receive gifts this holiday season. The partnerships ensure that needy seniors are identified, gifts are purchased and the wrapped gifts are distributed.
The program official starts at 11 a.m. tomorrow with a kickoff at the Monroeville Kmart, 120 Mall Blvd.
"We've done this for several years and it really touches not only those we give to, but everyone involved," she said.
Numerous nonprofits identify seniors who may not have family or those with families struggling financially and provide the information to the Home Instead offices. These seniors may live at home or in health-care facilities.
Home Instead then takes the information to create ornaments which are placed on Christmas trees in a number of retail locations. Shoppers may then select an ornament, purchase gifts and drop them off at participating locations.
"It couldn't be easier,'' Ms. Novelly said.
Home Instead staffers then pick up the gifts and have wrapping parties, another way for community members to participate. Anyone wishing to lend a helping hand can come to one of the parties and help wrap.
Wrapped gifts are then taken to the nonprofits, which then deliver them.
"One woman received beautiful towels, and she cried because someone was so generous," Mrs. Novelly said.
Tim Lyon, co-owner of the Home Instead in Zelienople, said he has heard from recipients that Senior Santa gifts may be the only ones they will receive during a holiday season.
"We like to think everyone gets gifts, but some of these folks don't have any family," he said.
Mr. Lyon's Home Instead franchise serves Butler, Beaver and parts of Armstrong counties. He works with the Big Lots store in Rochester and said the store helps by putting the Christmas tree in an obvious location then sorting the gifts for collection.
"They are wonderful to work with and help us get the word out," he said.
Meals on Wheels of Peters is one of a number of organizations that act as liaison between Home Health Care and the seniors.
"We have clients who would spend the holiday alone, without any gifts," said director Susan Hanawalt.
Her program covers Peters and the surrounding area, serving approximately 150 people every day.
"Those who live by themselves can get very lonely during the holidays," she said.
Mrs. Hanawalt has delivered gifts to her clients over the past few years, and it is now part of her own holiday tradition.
"Our folks are surprised, amazed and delighted. They can't believe that someone they don't know would buy them gifts," she said.
She shared one of her favorite stories from the program.
"We had a client in her late 90s who loved to write. Someone gave her a wonderful selection of cards and stamps. She was incredulous -- she thought it wonderful that someone not only gave her the cards, but was so thoughtful to include postage," she said.
First Published November 8, 2012 5:49 am