Be a Santa to a Senior program brings comfort, cheer to seniors

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While many seniors enjoy being able to live independently, the holidays can be a difficult time for those who are unable to spend them with friends or loved ones. In fact, isolated seniors are at greater risk for loneliness, anxiety and depression.

This is why the local Home Instead Senior Care office serving Riverside and San Bernardino is inviting the community to come together to bring some comfort and holiday cheer to area seniors through its Be a Santa to a Senior program.

“Research suggests that feelings of loneliness can have a real effect on both mental and physical health. The holidays are a prime time for many people to feel lonely, and that may be especially true for seniors who cannot travel from their homes or have lost their support network,” said Jesse Gonzalez of the Riverside Home Instead Senior Care office. “With Be a Santa to a Senior, we are able to bring them some comfort through a thoughtful gift that they might not otherwise receive, but, more importantly, by delivering them with a warm friendly face and kind words reminding them that their community cares about them.”

Providing gifts and companionship at a time when seniors may need it most, the program is made possible through the generous support of San Bernardino businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community. The local Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with Kaiser Permanente Health Centers, Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside Medical Clinic, Parkview Community Hospital, Moreno Valley Mall, Galleria at Tyler, Meridan of Riverside, Raincross Senior Living, Jose’s Mexican Food, The Soup Shoppe, Sunrise Assisted Living, Riverside County Department of Mental Health, Welbrook Arlington and the National Cremation Service to help with gift collection and distribution.

Holiday shoppers are invited to support Be a Santa to a Senior by visiting a participating location where Be a Santa to a Senior trees will be on display from November 13 to December 11. Those trees will be decorated with paper ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the collection box with the ornament attached. There’s no need to worry about wrapping — community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays. The seniors receiving gifts are low-income seniors from agencies such as, Meals on Wheels, Adult Protective Services, Catholic Charites Riverside Center, Police Department Programs, and senior living communities.

“We’re excited to get started and see the tree ornaments turn into meaningful gifts and interactions that can make a real impact on seniors’ quality of life this holiday season.” said Gonzalez. “We know there are a variety of gift initiatives out there, and are so grateful to have our partners and community come together to support this important cause that will bring some much-needed holiday spirit to many of our senior neighbors.”

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