Area Belk stores and Home Instead Senior Care are again working in partnership with nonprofit senior service agencies, nursing homes and senior housing programs throughout the region to make Christmas a little brighter for seniors who will be alone during the holidays.
Be a Santa for a Senior shopping adoption trees with ornaments bearing the first names and gift wishes of hundreds of under-served seniors in Northeast Tennessee are going up this week in Belk stores throughout the region. In Johnson City, the trees are located at the Customer Service desks of both Belk stores at The Mall at Johnson City.
Project partners include the Area Agency on Aging and Disability, Arc of Washington County, Good Samaritan Ministries, Bethel Housing, Citiview Housing, Life Care Center of Gray, John Sevier Center, Jonesborough Senior Center, Elizabethton Senior Center, Ivy Hall, Appalachian Christian Village and Pine Oaks Assisted Living. These facilities and other service agencies and housing programs have submitted the names and small gift wishes of seniors who will be alone and are unlikely to receive any other gifts or visitors at Christmas to place on the adoption trees.
Shoppers who wish to help are invited to chose a senior’s gift tag ornament from the trees and purchase a gift to return to the stores with the tag before Dec. 8. Community gift-wrapping parties will be held at the Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City beginning Dec. 8 and Home Instead volunteers will begin delivering the gifts Dec. 12.
Kim Howell, project coordinator for Home Instead, said other key partners in this year’s project include the local chapter of the national Alzheimer’s Association, Trinity Assembly of God, True Point Bank and Franklin Woods Community Hospital, whose staff provided gifts for 107 seniors in need last year.
All total, Be a Santa for a Senior volunteers distributed gifts to a total of 1,244 seniors in Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan and Hawkins counties last Christmas season and have set this year’s goal at 1,400 seniors.
Howell said while the seniors’ gift wishes are modest and humbling, the project has grown to include more seniors every year since its inception and the number is greater again this year.
“We’ve gotten the trees out earlier this year to give shoppers more time because the number is larger,” Howell said.
For more information about the project, visit www.beasantaâ€‰ toasenior.com â€‰ or call Home Instead Senior Care at 753-5111.