Merlene Davis: 'Be a Santa to Seniors' program emphasizes gifts for older recipients

Blair Huffman of Home Instead Senior Care said the "Be a Santa to a Senior" Christmas tree will again have ornaments with names of seniors and a suggested gift idea.
Blair Huffman of Home Instead Senior Care said the "Be a Santa to a Senior" Christmas tree will again have ornaments with names of seniors and a suggested gift idea.

We are nearing the time of year when the wants and needs of children direct our emotional and financial actions.

That's fine. But I would just like to tweak that a bit.

If you notice that the children in your life have an abundance of loot, consider not filling one or two items on their wish list and using that money to bless a senior in need.

Yes. Seniors. Remember them?

With the program, "Be a Santa to Seniors," Home Instead Senior Care's network has tried since 2006 to ensure that those seniors get a gift at Christmas that they might not otherwise receive.

Blair Huffman, human resources director for Home Instead Senior Care Lexington, said her agency partners with the Salvation Army, Sayre Christian Village, Emerson Center, Briarwood Apartments of Lexington, and others to find seniors in need of being remembered at Christmas time.

"We are looking to gift 200 seniors at least," Huffman said.

The names, along with their wishes, will be attached to an ornament and placed on a tree in the agency's office. Anyone can come in to the Home Instead offices at 207 East Reynolds Road, Suite 150, claim an ornament, and return it by Dec. 5 with a gift, wrapped if possible. If not, there are volunteers who are willing to wrap the items.

"We will have a wrapping party," she said. "Just make sure the ornament is attached to the gift."

Since "Be a Santa to Seniors" began in Lexington, about 1,000 seniors have received gifts. In North America, that number has grown to 1.2 million with help from more than 60,000 volunteers.

None of those who qualify for the program are clients of Home Instead, which provides non-medical home care services to clients and their families. The services provided could be simple household chores, companionship or accompanying a client to a doctor's appointment.

Those seniors who do qualify to have their names on the tree have basic wants, Huffman said.

"It's everyday needs, such as sweat suits, socks, blankets and hygiene products," she said.

Beaumont Family Dentistry has donated boxes of dental supplies, and the J.M. Smuckers Co.'s Jif Plant has donated tiny jars of peanut butter to which her office added a sleeve of crackers.

There have been a few requests from outside Lexington, including one person who wanted firewood, she said.

There are ornaments on the tree now, but they are willing to add to it as more names come in.

If you can't stop by to pick up a name, Huffman is more than willing to bring an ornament to you and then return to pick up the gift, she said. If that won't work, she can email or fax you a picture of the ornament.

Whichever way is easiest for you, Huffman is willing to do it. This is the time of year when she is out delivering ornaments or passing out flyers to make more people aware of the program.

"November and December, I am constantly coming and going," she said. "I will literally bring the ornament right to them."

If you know of a senior who might qualify for this program, give Huffman a call. If you would like to donate multiple items, she'd love to hear from you, too.

With just a little bit of effort on our part, we can show seniors that we value them just as much as we do our children at Christmas.

After all, at one time, they valued us.