Santa visits seniors

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Staff members from Home Instead Senior Care and Autumn Care, as well as volunteers from Open Door Church, prepare to hand out gifts to seniors at Autumn Care on Tuesday.

A parade of joyful Santa’s helpers strode up and down the halls of Autumn Care nursing home on Tuesday afternoon, arms laden with gifts for the residents.

The 108 festive bags were filled with all manner of gifts appropriate for seniors, including lap blankets, puzzle books, sugar-free candy, socks and more.

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” the gift-bearers said to residents sitting in the hallway.

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They passed out gifts to the residents, who gratefully took them and remarked on how nice the gifts were.

“Just exactly what my needs are,” said one resident who received a blanket, tissues and other presents.

The gifts were purchased by members of the community, who took tags off a tree at Walmart and shopped for the suggested presents, then returned them to the store.

The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program, which is in its second year, was sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care. Others who passed out gifts Tuesday included Autumn Care staff and volunteers from Open Door Church.

“The emphasis, as it should be, is on kids at Christmastime,” said Larry Neal, who owns Home Instead Senior Care with his wife, Nell. “But I think we’d be remiss if we forgot about our seniors. (Some seniors) won’t have a Christmas unless something like this is done for them.”

Neal called himself “Santy Claus” to all the residents, even though he wasn’t dressed for the part. Some gift recipients humored him anyway.

“Thank you, Santa,” resident Mary Butler said.

Deneen Evans, community service representative for Home Instead Senior Care, said they appreciate the community pitching in.

“The community really came up to bat once again,” she said.

Larry Neal said people are looking for ways to give back, especially at this time of year.

“This helps them plug in,” he said.

Tameika Brown, activities director at Autumn Care, said the facility and its residents appreciate the efforts of Home Instead, the volunteers and the community members who purchased gifts.

“I just appreciate the generosity of the community,” she said. “They’re really a blessing to our residents.”