LEE COUNTY, Fla. — 'Tis the season for giving, and this year many seniors in our area are in need of some holiday cheer.
The annual “Be a Santa to a Senior” program is underway, and organizers are working safely to remind seniors they're not alone.
“This program identifies local needy seniors in our community that might otherwise not have a gift or even a visitor during the holidays,” said Marisa Miller, Director for Development for Home Instead Senior Care, serving Southwest Florida.
Miller says this year the program is more important than ever.
“Isolation is something that everyone is experiencing, especially seniors. They were isolated before, and now it’s exasperated by this virus,” said Miller.
Home Instead Senior Care runs the program and partners with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors in need.
In the Southwest Florida area, it aims to help over 10,000 seniors feel the love on Christmas.
“The gifts that we are giving out [are] blankets, puzzle books, soft socks, just simple things, but it’s just so amazing,” said Miller.
For just a few bucks, you get to play Santa, and it’s pretty easy to participate.
All you have to do is go on the "Be a Santa to a Senior" website, type in your zip code to find one of the program's trees, choose an ornament, and fulfill the gift request for a local senior.
“What they do is; they go, find a tree, pick off the tag, buy the gift, return the gift to the tree location, and then we pick up the gifts,” said Miller.
Those gifts are then wrapped and given to the seniors.
There are 25-trees throughout Southwest Florida, at locations like Bells Outlets, banks, and churches.
“Each year we’re just amazed at the gifts that we get, there are a few things on the tags, but people go above and beyond to really get as much as they can to make sure that senior feel special,” said Miller.
"It's something that they cherish and really enjoy; it brings the spirit of the season."
This year there are also ways to donate online, and those who would rather buy gift cards for seniors can do so.