January 08, 2021

Be a Santa to a Senior Program Delivers 130,000 Gifts to Isolated Seniors

Senior in a santa hat

In a year when so many older adults were lonely and isolated, the Home Instead network’s Be a Santa to a Senior (BASTAS) gift program brightened the lives of more than 30,000 older adults throughout North America during the 2020 holiday season.

BASTAS began in 2003 as a way to collect holiday gifts for lonely and isolated older adults. Traditionally, Home Instead local franchise offices have partnered with area businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers and community volunteers to sponsor Be a Santa to a Senior.

During the holiday season, trees would go up in businesses and other organizations. Each tree was decorated with ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and gift suggestions. Holiday shoppers could choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it unwrapped to the store with the ornament attached. Home Instead staff would then coordinate wrapping and gift delivery.

This year’s coronavirus pandemic presented a new challenge to the way in which BASTAS gifts could be collected. A unique partnership with Amazon Business solved that dilemma. For the first time in the BASTAS program’s 17-year history, Home Instead teamed up with Amazon Business to create a contactless gift-giving experience for volunteers and recipients. The new Amazon Business partnership provided the same holiday cheer to local seniors while also prioritizing the safety and wellness of all who were involved.    

The program worked in much the same way as the traditional program, only virtually. Franchise offices offered virtual bulbs on their BASTAS websites with the first names of the older adults and their Amazon gift requests. When shoppers selected the gifts, they were mailed by Amazon Business directly to older adults in their homes or care communities, or to Home Instead offices for delivery.

Many offices continued to offer in-person, in-store BASTAS campaigns, others sponsored Amazon Business campaigns, or a combination of the two. The result was a record-setting 130,000 gifts distributed to aging adults throughout North America.

“The BASTAS program brings so much joy to seniors throughout North America,” said Home Instead Chief Executive Officer Jeff Huber. “Seniors are especially at risk for the feelings of isolation that we’ve all felt at some point during the pandemic, and a simple gift showed them that they have been thought of, which was more important than ever this past holiday.”

A record 267 North American franchise offices participated in BASTAS and the local and national media coverage generated 64 million media impressions.

With older adults more isolated than ever, the 2020 BASTAS program offered an opportunity to connect with seniors, many of whom have had no contact with others for months.