As families across Oklahoma gear up for the holidays, a segment of the state's senior population faces a lonely season. Home Instead Senior Care in Oklahoma City aims to provide a more cheerful and happy Christmas to seniors who are homebound and feel isolated. Be a Santa to a Senior is a program sponsored by Home Instead that gathers gifts, wraps them up for Christmas and delivers them to deserving seniors.
The program is a way to say “Thank You” to seniors for all their years of hard work and serving their communities, said Sue Loftis, a co-owner of the local Home Instead franchise.
“We hear stories every year that will bring tears to your eyes,” Loftis said of how grateful and touched the seniors are who receive gifts through the program.
The program kicked off last week when Christmas trees went up in two local Thrifty Pharmacies and at the Home Instead office. The trees are decorated with ornaments featuring the names of needy seniors and their wish lists for Christmas gifts.
“It's often things like paper towels, dish soap and other cleaning supplies,” Loftis said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nine percent of U.S. seniors 65 and older are living in poverty and 27 percent are widowed.
“Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year,” said David Loftis, co-owner of the Home Instead Senior Care. “That's not the only issue, though. Personal needs may become magnified for so many living alone with no one to share their problems.”
Many people who want to help the program donate items in bulk. Oftentimes, Sue Loftis said, extreme couponers will donate some of the spoils of their budget shopping. And the best way people can help is by donating cash.
Loftis said that all donations, even those made after the Dec. 7 deadline, will directly benefit local seniors.
The program is supported by the Oklahoma City Housing Authority, Sunbeam Family Services, Hospice of Oklahoma County, Alzheimer's Association, Easter Seals of Oklahoma City, Areawide Aging Agency and area retailers.
The Be a Santa to a Senior depends on volunteers. If you would like to volunteer to help wrap and deliver gifts, or make a donation of gifts or cash, call 521-1963. More information on the program can be found online at www.beasantatoasenior.com.