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Program providing Christmas gifts to local seniors in need

ROANOKE, Va. – If you're looking for a way to help brighten local seniors' holiday seasons, we have the answer.

You may have noticed gift trees at area businesses such as Olive Garden and the Green Ridge Recreation Center. They are part of Home Instead Senior Care's "Be a Santa to a Senior" program. It allows the community to donate gifts to needy and lonely seniors.

"It breaks up their loneliness and lets them know someone thought about them and remembered them during the holiday season," said Betsy Head, local franchise owner for Home Instead.

"Be a Santa to a Senior" serves about 1,000 elderly people in our area every year. They are referred to the program by organizations that care for them. 

"To be able to give their name to Home Instead and say, 'Help us recognize these seniors, help us give them an incredible Christmas, that's something that we're very blessed to do," said Jenny Morris, director of sales and marketing for Harmony at Roanoke Memory Care.

Ornaments on the trees show each of their needs. 

"Their requests are remarkably simple. We get requests for pajamas, robes, slippers," said Head.

Most of those tags have been taken, but the program still needs your help. As part of the program, Santa's Rescue Squad allows people to purchase gifts for seniors whose tags were taken but a gift was never turned in. In a few weeks, Home Instead will also need volunteers to help wrap and deliver presents. 

"The gratitude that they express in getting these simple gifts is amazing to receive," said Head.

To learn more about the program and how to get involved, click here.