Not just for kids: Seniors need Santa, too

news-santa-to-a-seniorHe knows if you've been bad or good.

Charlottesville realtor Bill Howard can't travel the world in one night, eat over a million cookies, nor ride in a sleigh led by 12 tiny reindeer. However, he does help Santa spread holiday cheer to senior citizens who otherwise would find nothing under the tree on Christmas morning, and other local residents can, too.

Be a Santa to a Senior is a program designed to ensure that the isolated or financially challenged elderly receive gifts and companionship this Christmas. Home Instead Senior Care has joined with a variety of local area retailers and agencies, such as the Salvation Army, Our Lady of Peace, Hospice of the Piedmont and Lite Rock Z95.1, to collect, wrap and deliver gifts to lonely seniors.

“What the program really tries to do is spread the cheer to those who might not have received gifts this year,” said publicist Peggy Dineen. Last year, Be a Santa to a Senior delivered over 2,000 gifts to needy seniors throughout the area.

Bill Howard has been volunteering for the program for five years, and he understands its impact on recipients.

“For a lot of these people, these are the only Christmas gifts they will receive.” he says. “And they are so appreciative that someone would think enough to go out and buy something for them.”

Those interested in donating a gift can pick up an ornament, which will feature the name of a senior and their gift request, between November 30 and December 9 from Christmas trees at Our Lady of Peace Nursing Home, Sam's Club, Volvo of Charlottesville on 250 West and In Vino Veritas in Keswick.

After buying items on the list, shoppers return the unwrapped gift and ornament. On December 10 and 11, a community gift-wrapping event will take place at Our Lady of Peace, and gifts will be delivered the following day.

Howard, who has assisted with the delivery of gifts in the past, has recruited the help of six close friends.

“The program really does have an impact,” he explains, “you get so many thanks and a lot of hugs, and that’s why I volunteer.”

More information can be found at

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1 comment

Probably the greatest gift you can give a senior, often living a very alone life, even in a nursing home, is your is your presence, your interest in their life, and physical contact, whether it be a hug, or just a handshake.