Home Instead is a national company that provides in-home care services to help seniors age safely in their own home. In 2003, they started a program called “Be a Santa To a Senior” with the goal of reaching the lonely and isolated older adult population. Through this program they wanted to give to those in need and since 2003 they have given 2.1 million gifts to 250,000 seniors nationwide.
Be a Santa To a Senior is volunteer based and sponsored by over 250 Home Instead offices whom participate each Christmas.
We talked with the local office located in Bethany since they have participated in this program since opening their doors twenty-three years ago. Local Franchise Owner, Robert Morris, has been a sponsor of this program to bring gifts to the aging population to some Oklahoma City residents.
For over twenty-three years, Home Instead has served the Oklahoma City Metro area and every holiday season, invites “the community to join in brightening the lives of seniors who are often isolated during the holiday season,” explains Susan Blackwood, Client Care Coordinator with Home Instead.
Every year, they invite the medical community, small and large businesses and individuals in the community who have a heart for seniors and a desire to brighten their Christmas.
Participants can select seven to eight items for a male and/or female from a “Wish List” that often includes gloves, blankets, lotions, tea, etc. It is asked that participants place gifts in a gift bag before delivering to Home Instead who places a group of volunteers in the community to deliver the gifts to participants.
In a partnership with Home Instead, The Oklahoma City Housing Authority assisted provides names of residents that are often forgotten over the holiday season.
“Each year we are reminded not only of those who are in need but of those who are so generous to give,” states Blackwood who is going into her 6th year to oversee Be a Santa to a Senior.
One year, explained Blackwood “we exceeded the list compiled by the Oklahoma City Housing Authority and were able to give overflow gifts to Sunbeam Services.”
Although the holidays can be overwhelming with all the hustle and bustle, we can tend to forget those struggling to get by, but it has been proven that the psychology of charity has positive effects on the brain that can lead to lasting improvements in mental health. The euphoria your brain experiences from giving is comparable to that from eating, hugging and exercising. The reward that the employees of Home Instead get from participating in this program proves this point.
“What has been exceedingly rewarding to me and our team at Home Instead, over the years, is to see the joy brought to all those who participate in providing gifts to seniors. As the gifts come pouring into the office, I have had the privilege of personally meeting many of the individuals who put together gift bags containing items they have thoughtfully selected,” Blackwood recalls the times that volunteers share stories with her of why they participate, “Over the years I have been astounded by the motivation of those who give. Their giving comes from a tremendous overflow of their hearts.”
It is stressed that the gifts do not need to be elaborate because the goal is to help aging adults be seen “it reminds individual seniors that they are remembered and valued and loved.”
To join the effort in giving this holiday season – contact Home Instead at 405-521-1963 or email Susan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can provide you with the wish list and letter explaining the details of the program.