Holiday program helps local seniors struggling with poverty, loneliness

(Nov. 16, 2012) With so many older adults living alone and in poverty, some area seniors will undoubtedly be struggling to make ends meet this holiday season. That’s why the area Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with retailers and community organizations to make sure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship through the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program.

“Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year,” said Claude Lewis, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving seniors in Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties. “That’s not the only issue, though. Personal needs may become magnified for so many living alone with no one to share their problems.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 9 percent of U.S. seniors 65 and older are living in poverty and 27 percent are widowed.

With the support of MAC Area Agency on Aging, Commission on Aging, Department of Social Services, the Health Department, area retailers, volunteers and members of the com- munity, the local Home Instead Senior Care office will collect and distribute gifts to seniors who might otherwise spend the holiday alone.

The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program kicked off Nov. 1, and continues through Dec. 6. Christmas trees — on display in Berlin at Apple Drugs (314 Franklin Ave.), Coastal Drug Center (10231 Old Ocean City Blvd.) and the Chamber of Commerce( 14 S. Main St.), and in Salisbury at Apple Drugs (404A N. Fruitland Blvd. and 1500A Pemberton Dr.) — will feature ornaments with the first names of the seniors and their respective gift requests.

Holiday shoppers are asked to pick up an ornament from the “Be a Santa to a Senior” Christmas trees, buy items on the list and return them wrapped to the store, along with the ornament attached. The Home Instead Senior Care office will then enlist the volunteer help of its staff, senior care business associates, non-profit workers and others to collect and distribute the gifts.

“‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ is another way to say ‘thank you’ to the many seniors who have made such important contributions to our community throughout the years,” Lewis said. “Helping a needy older adult can bring fulfillment to the giver as well as the receiver; it does make a difference.”

For more information about the program, visit www.beasantatoasenior.com or call 410-641-0901.

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