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Students become Santa for senior citizens

Xavier Smith • Updated Dec 16, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Home Instead Senior Care continued its annual Be a Santa to a Senior program with the help of a few dozen elves from Friendship Christian School. 

The school’s third and fourth graders, along with Home Instead Senior Care staff and volunteers, helped prepare gift bags for about 1,000 local seniors at College Hills Church of Christ. 

See a full gallery of photos here.

The students worked in small groups to gather gifts, wrapping paper and bags to create gift bags. Volunteers then organized the bags and labeled them with featured items.

The program takes requests from senior citizens for needed items. The requests can range from toiletries to blankets and many other items. Home Instead teams up local nonprofit agencies and retailers to collect, wrap and deliver gifts to these seniors during the holiday season.

 “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 Bill Noffisinger with Home Instead Senior Care. “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, our community partners deliver them with a warm friendly face reminding them that their community cares about them.”

“It puts a final touch on the community coming together in a full circle from seniors to young children and the community helping and showing what Christmas really means for our aging adults,” said Home Instead owner Maggie Lea.

“I have children from our very first year program nine years ago coming back and saying what this meant to them, and now that they’re adults and loving seniors even more because of this program,” she said. 

The program started in 2003 and has attracted around 60,000 volunteers who distribute gifts to deserving seniors. Since introducing the Be a Santa to a Senior program, Home Instead Senior Care has helped provide 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 seniors.

“I’m blown away by all the support our community has shown. Because of their support, we are able to provide meaningful gifts to almost 1,000 area seniors.  These gifts and interactions can make a real impact on seniors’ quality of life this holiday season,” Noffisinger said. “We know there are a variety of gift initiatives out there, and are so grateful to have our partners and community came together to support this important cause.”

Be a Santa to a Senior sponsors include: ALIVE Hospice, Amedisys Home Health – Lebanon, Aqua Bella’s, Avalon Hospice, Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, CenterStone Behavioral Health, College Hills Church of Christ, Custom Packaging, Elite Audiology, ElmCroft Senior Living, First Bank – Mt. Juliet, Friendship Christian School, Kindred Home Health, Kindred Hospice – Nashville, Gibbs Pharmacy, Girl Scouts of America Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, Lebanon Police Department, Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS, RockStar Academy of Dance, Rutland Place Senior Community, Southern Manor, Star Physical Therapy (Mt, Juliet, Lebanon, Hermitage, Donaldson), Treehouse Learning Academy, TriStar Summit Medical Center – Hermitage, TriMark Strategic Equipment, Summit Imaging at Lebanon, Vista Points Special Needs Trust, West Elementary School, Wilson Bank & Trust – Carthage, Zone Conditioning and Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance.

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