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'Be a Santa to a Senior' program spreads Christmas joy to seniors in facility-based care

Be a Santa to a Senior
Posted at 7:58 AM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 08:58:50-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — During the season of giving, one senior care company is spreading cheer to those who may be spending the holidays alone. Each year, Home Instead partners with local nursing homes and assisted living facilities for its ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program. 

“It’s a way of giving to seniors in our community who might be lonely or not have family and friends nearby to even visit them. We want to help them feel appreciated and a part of the community,” said Angela Shinners, the general manager of the Green Bay Home Instead office.

Community members can simply stop by one of the 'Be a Santa to a Senior' trees, pick an ornament, and buy a gift. Some ornaments have general gift ideas while others have individual names of seniors with a personalized wishlist.

Be a Santa to a Senior

The trees are located at Walgreen’s located at 700 W. College Avenue in Appleton and at Lighthouse Christian Book store located at 2781 S. Oneida Street in Ashwaubenon.

Lighthouse Christian Book store participates in the program every year. Staff say each year they’re surprised at their customers’ enthusiasm for the program, with many picking up two or three ornaments at a time. 

“Every year we have people calling before we get the tree saying 'Are you doing the Santa for a Senior tree?' so every year we’re fielding calls and saying 'yes as soon as it’s ready it’ll be here',” said floor manager Matt Connaher.

Be a Santa to a Senior

Shinners says last year Green Bay Home Instead gave gifts to 80 seniors and this year she estimates the total will be about 230 gifts. Nationwide, Home Instead has given 750,000 seniors over 2 million gifts since the program started in 2003.

In the midst of the pandemic which has made it especially difficult for seniors in out-of-home care facilities to see their families, the program reminds seniors they’re not alone. 

“The whole holiday season is about giving and giving to those in need," Shinners said. "To be able to give a gift to a senior who might not necessarily have a gift is just a wonderful experience because the joy on their face and the appreciation that they have is really special.” 

Community members can pick up an ornament through December 12th. To learn more, visit