"Be a Santa for a Senior" Changed My Holiday Forever

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I was 17 the first time I volunteered for the Santa to a Senior program. I had spent the previous day doing nothing but wrapping — adding bows, curling ribbons, and stuffing red and green tissue paper into myriad gift bags. It was surprisingly hard work but intensely gratifying.

But I wasn’t wrapping these presents for anyone I knew. I was wrapping them for some of the loneliest seniors in my town.

The Be a Santa to a Senior program got its start in 2003, sponsored by Ready to Care by Home Instead. Dedicated offices from around the country work together to put on a drive that brings entire communities together. By gathering, wrapping, and hand-delivering gifts, the program was designed to bring holiday cheer to seniors who had no place to go.

I’ll never forget the experience of delivering my first gift. I pulled up to a house at the end of a long gravel driveway, hidden from the road by sprawling tree branches. After running through the rain to ring the doorbell, I waited for several minutes before seeing the glass swing door open. A lovely woman, completely donned in festive attire, was positively beaming.

“Merry Christmas!” I remember saying. The tears in her eyes told me this simple act meant more than I could ever know.

According to recent statistics, more than 28% of adults over 50 feel alone during the holidays.

We spent almost an hour chatting together in the living room, with me sipping a mug of cocoa she insisted I drink. She talked about almost everything: the weather, her cats, the state of the world. Most of all, she wanted to share the holiday stories that mattered to her. It’s my opinion that the sharing of stories is the most powerful thing one person can do for another. So, when the time came to leave, we were both reluctant to say goodbye.

“Merry Christmas,” she said as I walked back to my car. “You were my favorite gift.”

I’ve never been able to look at the holidays the same way again.

For countless seniors living on their own, Be a Santa to a Senior matters immensely. According to recent statistics, more than 28% of adults over 50 feel alone during the holidays. That is far too many. Taking time out of the holiday rush to help, even for just a day or two, is vitally important to our loneliest citizens. Trust me; it’s worth every sacrifice.

The work being done at Be a Santa to a Senior is brightening the holidays for those who don’t always have the luxuries of mobility, health, or family. Being able to donate, pack, and deliver gifts in a personalized way for these seniors makes a world of difference to them.

In its almost 20 years in existence, the Be a Santa to a Senior program has made an extraordinary impact on a struggling demographic. During this time, the program has had:

  • 250 office locations involved

  • 65,000 volunteers retained

  • 750,000 seniors impacted

  • 2 million gifts given

If you’re interested in getting involved with Be a Santa to a Senior or want to learn more about the resources in your area, check out its website at beasantatoasenior.com. The interface gives you a chance to search by ZIP code so you can find an office location in your area. If you don’t have the time to wrap or deliver gifts yourself, consider donating some Christmas gifts for a senior in need.

I’ve participated in Be a Santa to a Senior for many years. Each year is a joy to be a part of and something I’ll always look forward to. But, I’ll never forget that first visit in the rain, where I so tangibly experienced the impossible, supernatural, overwhelming joy of holiday giving.

Tags: Christmas, holiday season, santa

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Written By

Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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