For many, the holidays are a time of giving back. By giving to seniors, whether it’s by donating funds or volunteer time, you’ll help some of the community’s most vulnerable population.
According to the National Council on Aging, more than 25 million American senior citizens aged 60+ are economically insecure, with 22 percent of married and 47 percent of single seniors relying on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
Locally, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center offers a range of programs and services to help more than 10,000 of the area’s seniors.
For example, the non-profit center annually serves 66,000 home delivered meals and 53,000 meals at its dining hall, helps 7,000 seniors with case management services such as utility assistance and home repairs, and provides recreation, fitness, and education classes that attract 40,000 attendees.
“We believe that each person should have the opportunity to age well and it is our goal to assist everyone in maintaining their highest level of independence,” said Kevin MacDonald, executive director for the Center.
The center is currently embarked on its annual appeal campaign, designed to raise funds for existing programs, as well as embarking on a new state-of-the-art center designated for completion in 2018.
“While we are county funded, it doesn’t nearly cover our costs all year,” MacDonald said
All donations are tax-deductible and any amount is appreciated according to Robin Clough, volunteer and recreation coordinator.
“A little goes a long way. Just $5 delivers a meal to a homebound senior,” Clough said.
There are other ways to help, such as donating non-perishable items such as Ensure, peanut butter, tuna, soup, and canned fruit that are in high demand as part of the center’s supportive services program.
“Seniors usually come here for lunch, but if they need more food, we’ll send some home with them,” Clough said.
Large ticket item needs include two large, leather or faux leather recliner chairs with an automatic lifting mechanism for use in the adult day care program.
If you have time to spare, volunteer opportunities are plentiful during the holidays and throughout the year, as Clough illustrated.
“Ninety percent of our volunteers work with food service to pack our home delivered meals or serve lunch, but people can be as creative as they want,” she said.
MacDonald mentioned a group of students that wanted to help. He suggested they bring a bagged lunch and sit with seniors during the lunch service.
“It’s a great way to engage,” he said. “These are the intangible types of donations that are just priceless.”
Help is also needed with marketing, fundraising, public relations and administrative duties and all ages are welcome.
“Our receptionist is over 90 years old,” MacDonald said with a smile. “There’s something here for everyone.”
For those with senior neighbors or loved ones, there are ways you can give close to home. Clough offered the following tips:
■ Offer to help with grocery shopping by picking up any items the next time you’re at the store
■ Give out your phone number and make it clear that you’re available to chat or for emergencies
■ Walk a dog or help clean out a cat litter box if the senior has mobility issues
■ Bring over a hot meal or homemade baked goods
■ Offer to accompany the senior on errands
“Making the effort to do extra little things helps build a relationship and will really help make their life more comfortable,” Clough said.
The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is located at 22900 Market Street, Newhall. For more information, call (661) 259-9444 or visit www.myscvsoa.org.