By Mary O’KEEFE
The holidays are thought as a time for family, friends and children. Santa’s helpers collect toys so children can have something under the Christmas tree. Those same helpers will fill grocery bags with food so families can sit around the table and share a healthy meal. But often there is a segment of the population that is forgotten during this holiday for the young. There are many seniors who sit in a nursing home and watch as the holidays pass them by.
“Be a Santa to a Senior” is a program that is headed by Home Instead Senior Care who partner with non-profits and area retailers to help make the holidays a joyful time for seniors.
“This is a way to give back to the community,” said Nancy Serpa, of Home Instead Senior Care.
Since the nation wide program began six years ago 1.2 million gifts had been delivered to needy seniors throughout the country, according to a release by the care center.
“A lot of times people forget about those seniors who are alone, many of who have out lived their families. I was talking to a woman [recently] who had lost both of her children. She was over 90 and had no family,” Serpa said.
Serpa gets names of those in need from a variety of places including Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital outreach, Meals on Wheels and several nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Those names are placed on cards and hung on Christmas trees around La Crescenta, Burbank and Glendale.
“The La Crescenta Woman’s Club help us [a lot]. They get names from the Verdugo Valley Convalescent home. Each woman takes a name, purchases a gift and then they have a wrapping party,” Serpa said.
The cards will list what are first and second choices for the senior. Serpa is a little concerned about this year’s participation. Last year volunteers had to purchase gifts for 60 seniors whose names were not chosen. This year Serpa has about 75 tags left.
“I know people get busy. Sometimes they will take a card and then forget to bring the gift,” she said.
Financial donations are being accepted to help buy gifts for those whose tags remain on the trees.
“I want to make sure that no senior is forgotten,” Serpa said.
To make that happen Serpa will go pick up donations if someone calls in and is unable to deliver.
Anyone who would like to donate can send their donations to Home Instead Senior Care, Attn. Nancy Serpa, and 3917½ Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505. To find a senior’s name, the trees are located at several Curves locations: 3725 Clifton Place, Montrose; 1010 Glendale Ave., Glendale; 1090 San Fernando Road, Glendale; 940 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank. Other Burbank locations include Burbank Town Center, 201 E. Magnolia Blvd.; YMCA, 321 East Magnolia Ave.; Vintage Senior Living, 2721 Willow St.; and Michelle Bouse’s Boutique, 2110 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake.
The items have to be in by Dec. 15 for a community gift-wrapping party at Joslyn Adult Center, 1301 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. The public is invited to help wrap the gifts. Gift delivery is from Dec. 16-23.