Home Instead organizes secret Santa for seniors

Santa Clarita residents will be able to help seniors in need this holiday season by picking up a paper ornament from a tree like this at businesses across town. Matt Fernandez/The Signal

The Christmas season is just around the corner, and Home Instead Senior Care is helping to make the season of giving bright for seniors.

Home Instead is running its “Be a Santa to a Senior” program for the 15th year. Partnering with businesses in Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley, Home Instead has set up trees filled with with paper ornaments with the names of seniors and items that they need or would like to receive for Christmas.

The Salvation Army, the SCV Food Pantry and the senior center at Bella Vida send the names of seniors in need to Home Instead, who will then provide those individuals with wish lists. Those who wish to donate then pick up an ornament from a participating business and return the purchased items to that business. From there, Home Instead organizes the donations and replaces the ornament with a gift tag “from Santa.”

Linda Rosevear, client care coordinator at Home Instead and “chief Santa” for the program, said this is an opportunity for the community to be a secret Santa for a senior in need. 

“Unfortunately there are a lot of seniors who don’t have anyone to care for them or who have families that live very far away, and the average lifespan has increased from 50 to 70 for seniors,” Rosevear said. “For a few years we had an elementary school participate, and all children see seniors as adopted grandparents and it’s just very nice to connect the generations.”

Charlene Perrone, owner of the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley branch of Home Instead, said that when they began the program they served 200 seniors and since then that number ballooned to 1,400 in 2018. 

“The holidays are geared towards children, not to seniors,” Perrone said. “Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley have grown considerably. There are more seniors now, and having that number of participants shows that there are more people in need. Thanks to the generosity of the community we were able to meet the demand and get gifts to all 1,400 of those seniors.”

Mia Wright, a group leader for a youth group at Real Life Church, said she has her group give back to the community each year. This year, they decided to participate in “Be a Santa to a Senior.”

“With all the tragedies we’ve had in the past weeks we wanted to do something to brighten the girls’ holiday season, and we decided to do that by bringing Christmas to some seniors,” Wright said. “It’s important to shine a light on the fact that there are others out there that might not be as fortunate as we are and that those who are in a position to help give back to the community.”

To learn more about the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program or to find a participating business with a tree, visit beasantatoasenior.com. Home Instead will accept donations until Dec.23.

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