Positively Jax: You can ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ this Christmas

Fulfill Christmas wish lists virtually for local seniors or visit participating businesses and nonprofits

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Christmas may be just weeks away, but there’s still time to help spread Christmas cheer to some of our most vulnerable this holiday season. Gifts can be purchased and donated to local senior citizens through Home Instead’s “Be a Santa to a Senior” program.

To make things safer with COVID-19 this year, Home Instead advertised it was partnered with Amazon Business so purchases could be made and delivered virtually, but the traditional method of setting up trees at participating businesses is still in effect.

To find a location go to beasantatoasenior.com, put in your ZIP code, and the list of area businesses will pop up.

At Duck Donuts inside the Bartram Park shopping center on Old St. Augustine Road, not only can you enjoy a delicious treat, but you can also help spread cheer to senior citizens. As Jennifer Hill with Home Instead explains, the goal is to help seniors feel loved on Christmas.

“‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ is a way that we give back to seniors that are low income or perhaps don’t have any support,” Hill said.

People can stop in, grab a paper wish list off the tree, make their purchases and bring them back to that location. As Hill showed News4Jax, one participating senior requested towels and a soft blanket on their wish list.

“The things they want are not these big, elaborate presents like people might think,” Hill said. “It’s simple things. Toiletry items, a snuggly blanket, a jogging suit.”

The “Be Santa to a Senior” program was launched in 2003 as a way to give back to older adults to help them feel cherished in their communities. Hill said with the isolation that has come from the pandemic, showing this love and support is more important than ever.

“It’s been very trying this year, especially because you see people you’ve known for a long time go into an assisted living that cannot see their family,” Hill said. “I’ve only seen my own grandmother twice since March.”

The gifts may be small, but the joy they’ll bring is anything but. The goal is to have all the gifts processed by Dec. 18.

Since its 2003 launch, nationwide there have been more than 65,000 volunteers who’ve helped distribute gifts, approximately 2 million gifts provided, and more than 750,000 seniors whose holiday was brightened.

Home Instead provides home care services for area senior citizens in both private homes and communities. That care includes meal prep, ensuring safety in the home, bathing, etc. To learn more, click here.

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