ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — An aging-care company needs help this holiday season to provide gifts to seniors in the area who might not otherwise get to celebrate Christmas.
Be a Santa to a Senior, a program through Home Instead Senior Care, is in its fifteenth year in central Texas, and the company saw a 50 percent spike this December in the number of older Texans who filled out gift requests to be placed in three Walmart stores in Williamson and Travis counties.
Nearly a thousand people put their wishes on paper ornaments, which were then used to decorate trees in the stores. Now the company needs more volunteers to stop by, choose an ornament, and shop for what’s on them.
“Until they are completely filled, our work is not done,” said Tyson Murphy, owner and administrator of Home Instead.
In many cases, Murphy said, it’s the only gift a senior will receive this year. More than a quarter of people over 65 years old live alone, according to the American Psychological Association.
All 45 members of the AGE of Central Texas Williamson County Adult Day Health Center are on this year’s list. Activity director Naomi Dalsbo has coordinated with the donation event for the last three years.
“It helps our seniors because it helps their family,” Dalsbo said. “In their bag, they get a couple of items that are needed, and then usually there’s an item that’s wanted.”
The seniors who spend their days at the center live at home, and many of them are dealing with some kind of memory loss. As we age and lose the ability to
Dalsbo said the secret Santa initiative helps combat some of the natural results of aging, like the loss of family members to celebrate with and the loss of transportation options to get around for the holidays.
“This is our way of giving back and letting them know that they’re not forgotten,” Dalsbo said.
Most of the gifts requested are small and simple, like a hat, magnifier, or gloves. “Don’t get me wrong,” Murphy said, “we’ve had some large requests that we were unfortunately unable to fulfill, like a new car.”
Once the gifts are bought and wrapped, they’ll be given to the seniors in handmade gift bags decorated by students at local schools.
If you want to donate a gift, you can stop by one of the three Walmart stores listed below and shop through Sunday, Dec. 16:
- Round Rock: 4700 E. Palm Valley Blvd.
- Georgetown: 620 I-35
- Pflugerville: 1548 FM 685
You can find other ways to brighten up a senior’s holidays here.