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Program offers opportunity to brighten a senior’s holiday

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Area volunteers wrap gifts at the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care! at The Area agency on aging., 93 N. State Street, Wilkes-Barre Monday Dec. 5. The volunteers are aiming to wrap 150-200 gifts for financially needy and socially isolated seniors throughout Luzerne county.Mark Morancv06beasantap3

MARK MORAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A volunteer finishes wrapping a gift for the Be a Santa to a Senior program last year at The Area Agency on Aging in Wilkes-Barre.

Area residents once again have the opportunity to help make the holidays a little brighter for senior citizens who aren’t able to spend them with family or friends.

The local Home Instead Senior Care office serving Luzerne County is inviting the community to bring some comfort and holiday cheer to area seniors through its Be a Santa to a Senior program, which reaches more than 200 local seniors every year.

While many senior citizens enjoy living independently, the holidays can be difficult for those unable to spend them with friends or loved ones. In fact, isolated seniors are at greater risk for loneliness, anxiety and depression, according to Home Instead.

“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,” Alyssa Maria, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Luzerne, said in a news release.

“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, we deliver


those gifts with a warm friendly face and kind words to remind them that their community cares about them,” Maria said.

The program is made possible through the support of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community. The local Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with Area Agency on Aging, North Penn Manor and Plymouth Manor to help with gift collection and distribution.

Holiday shoppers can support this local program by visiting a local Walgreens or Cook’s Pharmacy where Be a Santa to a Senior trees are on display through Dec. 11. Those trees will be decorated with paper ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached.

There’s no need to worry about wrapping. Community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays.

“We’re excited to get started and see the tree ornaments turn into meaningful gifts and interactions that can make a real impact on seniors’ quality of life this holiday season,” Maria said.

“We know there are a variety of gift initiatives out there, and we are so grateful to have our partners and community come together to support this important cause that will bring some much-needed holiday spirit to many of our senior neighbors,” she added.

Contact the writer:

570-821-2110, @SteveMocarskyCV



Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at the following locations:


• 400 Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd., Wilkes-Barre

• 210 Wyoming Ave., Kingston

• 2460 Memorial Highway, Dallas

Cook’s Pharmacy

• 777 Wyoming Ave., Kingston

• 159 N. Memorial Highway, Shavertown


Anyone interested in helping wrap presents during the program wrapping party on Dec. 12 can call the Home Instead Senior Care office at 570-714-4260.


Since Home Instead, which is based in Omaha, Neb., rolled out the Be a Santa to a Senior program nationally in 2003:

• More than 60,000 volunteers helped distribute gifts to seniors.

• More than 1.2 million gifts were provided to deserving seniors.

• The holidays of more than 700,000 seniors were brightened.

For more information about the program, visit

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