Volunteers are Santa’s helpers for Home Instead’s Be A Santa To A Senior
WILKES-BARRE — At the Area Agency on Aging’s annex, Christmas music played quietly, muffled by scissors cutting wrapping paper, tissue paper rustling as it was placed into gift bags, the pull and tear of Scotch tape and the laughs and chatter of about a dozen volunteers.
The volunteers gathered to help wrap more than 200 presents for senior citizens throughout Luzerne County.
Paper ornaments, adorned with a senior’s first name and gift item, were distributed throughout the community as part of the Be a Santa to a Senior program, sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care in Luzerne County in collaboration with the Agency on Aging. Gifts were then returned to the agency and, on Monday, all the gifts were wrapped. Annette Grella, director of Social Services for the agency, attached one of those paper ornaments to a present she wrapped.
“Care managers develop a list of their consumers (and) what their needs or wants are for Christmas. They try to include seniors who might not otherwise get a gift either because they have no family members in the area or are otherwise alone for the holiday,” Grella said.
Those care managers deliver the gifts closer to Dec. 25.
Louise C. Ligi, community outreach and education director for Colbert and Grebas P.C., said she has been volunteering for the program for nine years, four of them in Luzerne County.
“It’s so heartwarming,” she said. “One year a lady got a pair of slippers, and she was hugging them because she was so grateful to receive a present. It really warms your heart seeing how much they appreciate even the smallest of gifts.”
Gifts included slippers, scarves, laundry detergent, hats, gloves, tissues, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion and other basic necessities.
For Susan McGeehan, of Plymouth, Monday’s wrap party was her first.
“I’ve worked for Home Instead for three years now, and I just felt like giving something back,” she said.
She was putting the finishing touches on one of her packages — she estimated the wrong size at first so had to go back to the drawing board and seek out a larger gift bag.
It was her second package of the morning, but with dozens of unwrapped gifts still to go, McGeehan was bound to have more under her belt before the morning was over.
“There’s stuff like sweatshirts, those throw blankets, I saw some stuffed animals,” she said.
Alyssa Maria, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Luzerne County, said she is always pleased with the results of Be a Santa to a Senior.
“A week after I dropped off the ornaments, some of the stores were calling me asking if I had anymore,” she said. “I’m very happy with the turnout, although we could have used a few more wrappers.”
With proceeds from the “Christmas For A Cause” album, Weekender purchased more than 50 presents for senior cititzens included in the Be a Santa to a Senior program. We still have a few CDs available so if you are interested in picking one up, contact Weekender at 570-991-6111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Sarah Haase at 570-991-6111 or at email@example.com.
A WAY TO HELP
Recently, Weekender worked with local musicians to create a ‘Christmas for a Cause’ album. Part of the proceeds of the CD go toward benefiting Home Instead and purchasing Christmas presents for Be A Santa To A Senior. If you would like to reserve a CD, call Weeknder editor Sarah Haase at 570-991-6111.