Be A Santa To A Senior 2016

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​​​Stephanie Niles, Home Instead Organize Area-Wide Effort to Give Back to Seniors

When franchise owner Stephanie Niles got Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria off the ground in 2013, she knew there were area seniors who had no family, were isolated and had experienced the loss of a loved one. Furthermore, the holiday season finds many older adults struggling to make ends meet. Stephanie was determined to help. 

Ever since that inaugural year, Stephanie has organized the franchise’s “Be a Santa to a Senior®” program that provides gifts and companionship to seniors. During that first year, 300 to 350 donated gift items were collected and distributed to 50 seniors. 

Each senior receives a gift bag with essential items, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, plus the things he or she requested. Among the most requested items are socks, towels, blankets, robes, pajamas and crossword puzzles.​

This year, volunteers from the nonprofit Meals on Wheels collected an incredible 5,000 donated items that were distributed to 200 seniors from Dec. 19 to Dec. 23 in Victoria, Goliad, Hallettsville and Edna.

​“We do this program every year because it’s very easy to focus on children.” Stephanie said, “and we forget that our seniors need attention too. They have given so much to us throughout the years. Now, it’s our turn to give, providing meaningful and useful gifts to those seniors who otherwise would not be receiving gifts. The public’s response was awesome – the essential items filled my office.”

Under Stephanie’s direction, Home Instead Senior Care partnered with many businesses, organizations and schoolchildren to pull off the benevolent effort. Partners displayed a “Be a Santa to a Senior” tree that had ornaments with seniors’ first names, as well as their desired gifts. After people chose an ornament, they bought the requested gifts and returned them to the business or facility with the ornament attached. About 150 of the seniors’ names came from Meals on Wheels, in addition to about 50 from Hospice of South Texas, another nonprofit. 

Partners included all Sonic Drive-In locations in Victoria, Hallettsville and Port Lavaca as well as all Victoria Walgreens locations. Others joining the effort were New First National Bank, Shop the World, Twin Pines North Rehab Center and Bank of America.

Additionally, Industrial Elementary East first- through fifth-grade students decorated the bags that were used to distribute the gifts.  Also assisting in the effort were fourth-grade students at Stephen F. Austin Elementary in Richmond and Briscoe Junior High seventh-grade English students in Richmond. 

Volunteers from AARN Health Services helped facilitate the program. Stephanie said volunteers from home health, hospice and rehabilitation facilities in Victoria helped package the gifts.VictoriaBASTAS4.jpg  

“The ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program truly brings out the Christmas spirit in everyone across the city as they all give without truly knowing the result,” Stephanie said. “It’s a blind faith, which we at Home Instead Senior Care believe is the true spirit of Christmas. Further, it is a faith in Jesus and a belief in Santa – and what he represents – giving of oneself for the betterment of others. If you donated to the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ effort, we want to extend our appreciation for your generosity. You made a senior in need very happy during this holiday season.”

To learn more about the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Victoria or to inquire about services or employment opportunities, call 361-433-0330 or visit our Home Instead website​. All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured.


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