Categorized | Technology

Christmas presents not all child’s play — be a Santa to a senior

ROCKFORD — When it comes to getting presents from Santa, the first thought may be of excited, twinkly eyed children waking up to something special on Christmas morning. Imagine the same joy and wonderment in the eyes of senior citizens.

Be a Santa to a Senior is doing just that, said Robyn Schoonhoven, office manager of Home Instead Senior Care’s Rockford branch. She and her staff teamed up with Kmart and members of the community to provide Christmas cheer to those who may not receive gifts otherwise.

A Christmas tree at Kmart on East State Street is adorned in paper ornaments with written requests for donors to choose from. This year’s recipients are clients of Forest City Rehab and Nursing Center.

Reaching out to choose an ornament, 15-year-old Geneli Cardona and her parents, Monica and Mario, say it is a great idea and one they are happy to support.

Geneli, no stranger to giving, recently volunteered at a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless. She said giving back to others who may not have as much makes her feel happy.

“It helps you be more thoughtful, and when you think of how blessed we are, it is easy to give,” Monica said.

“After Christmas last year, we received a phone call from a lady,” Schoonhoven said. “She told us she was one of the recipients of a gift delivered by Lifescape, and understood it was a gift from us through Be a Santa. She told us, ‘I haven’t received a gift in over 10 years, and it made me feel so good to open a gift and to just have something new.’ It was so sweet.”

Lifescape Community Services assisted Schoonhoven’s team, delivering gifts to their Meals on Wheels clients.

Mike Hughes, executive director of Lifescape, said his team was happy to support the effort last year and anticipates further involvement as it grows.

“Our clients are typically homebound. To have somebody reach out to them and give them a present meant a great deal to them. People, Kmart and their customers were very generous and our clients certainly appreciated what they did. We were very happy to be a part of that,” Hughes said.

Corporate-wide, Schoonhoven said the program is in its 14th year. Locally, however, it’s in its third, but is already being well-received and quickly growing. “We are very lucky to still have a Kmart here, too. They have been wonderful to us — honestly everyone has.”

Bob Koch, local franchisee of Home Instead said, “Research suggests that feelings of loneliness can have a real effect on both mental and physical health. The holidays are a prime time for many people to feel lonely, and that may be especially true for seniors who cannot travel from their homes or have lost their support network.

“With Be a Santa to a Senior, we are able to bring them some comfort through a thoughtful gift that they might not otherwise receive, but, more importantly, by delivering them with a warm friendly face and kind words (we are) reminding them that their community cares about them.”

How to help

The Be a Santa to a Senior tree and gift drop-off box is located near the entrance and checkout aisles of Kmart, 5909 E. State St., Rockford. For more information about the program, visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call 815-209-0085.

Article source: http://www.rrstar.com/entertainmentlife/20171202/christmas-presents-not-all-childs-play---be-santa-to-senior

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