Program to give holiday gifts to older people kicks off – Yahoo News

Nov. 16—The Be a Santa to a Senior program has kicked off for Frederick community members to add holiday cheer into the lives of older people.

At Walmarts on Monocacy Boulevard and Guilford Drive, Christmas trees are decorated with ornaments that have the names, ages and wish lists of older people who might be alone for the holiday season, according to a news release from Home Instead, a home care organization that runs the program.

Walmart shoppers can pick an ornament and buy gifts on the wish list.

The program wants to bring back the childlike experience of opening presents on Christmas, since older people are often missed in this process, Brad Snively, co-owner of Home Instead, said in an interview Tuesday.

“Back in 2011, I had a gentleman, when he unwrapped his gifts, he said to me, ‘I never thought I would have the thrill I had as a child,'” Snively said. “And this brought it all back.”

The trees will be up through Nov. 28.

After buying the gift on the wish list, the shopper will give their gift to the cashier during checkout. Gifts are collected, wrapped, and delivered.

The gifts that older people ask for usually aren’t extravagant, Snively said.

Older people tend to ask for things like blankets, socks and undershirts, he said. Giving has also evolved with gift cards, he said.

The program has been around since 2006, and took a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.

This year, Home Instead wants to reach more older people than it usually does to make up for the fact that the pandemic temporarily halted the program, Snively said. So, it partnered with Supporting Older Adults through Resources (SOAR) to expand its reach.

Leslie Schultz, founder and executive director of SOAR, could not be reached for comment.

Snively said about 150 older people asked for gifts this year, and he’s anticipating the program will accumulate 300 to 400 gifts.

Since 2006, the program has given gifts to more than 3,000 people.

“It really puts you in the Christmas mood,” Snively said.

Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel

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