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Santa Claus visits Autumn Care

The residents at Autumn Care of Suffolk had a surprise guest outside their window recently.

On Dec. 7, Suffolk Sheriff’s Office made one of its regular visits to Autumn Care with a special guest in tow, Santa Claus. Autumn Care decorated the facility early to lift spirits, but the holiday cheer was not complete until Santa made his debut.

“The resident’s faces lit right up,” said Tameika Cross, the activities director at Autumn Care. “The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office has really supported us and has not missed a holiday. The residents have really looked forward to it and we are beyond grateful for them. They are really a part of the Autumn Care family.”

Autumn Care is one of the Sheriff’s Office’s partners they regularly engage with a few times a year to do activities. This year, due to COVID-19, the Sheriff’s Office has not been able to visit as usual.

The Sheriff’s Office came with gifts of toiletry items, socks, puzzle books and other goodies that would typically serve as prizes during their bingo games. Cross announced that a special visitor would be outside their windows, so residents needed to pull up their blinds. Cross led a few deputies from the Sheriff’s Office to accompany Santa Claus to the open windows.

“The residents were so tickled,” said Katie Jones, the community engagement coordinator for the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office. “They said, ‘Hey Santa,’ and waved and were happy. There were a couple of rooms we had missed the first round because they hadn’t opened their blinds yet, and they banged on the windows for us to come back. They were thrilled to see us.”

Due to COVID-19, visitation has been difficult at retirement communities like Autumn Care, where the most vulnerable to the virus live. Visitation has been limited to window visits or porch visits with no contact allowed. Now, while strictly following the CDC guidelines, loved ones can come in for front lobby visits.

“Even though it’s through a window, it’s nice to be able to still see them and still have some sort of contact,” said Jones. “Still not what we are used to, but heartwarming to still do good.”