(Update: Adding video and comments from volunteers)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- This year, Home Instead® celebrates 20 years of bringing joy to the Bend community with Be a Santa to a Senior, a gift-giving program for older adults who may be overlooked, isolated or alone during the holiday season.
Since the program’s nationwide inception in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has engaged more than 65,000 volunteers, provided more than 2.2 million gifts, and shared the holiday spirit with about 800,000 older adults.
"The gratitude that seniors have really touches me every year, and really the involvement of our community is incredible," Gloria Vloedman, who has been working with the program for 10 years, said Wednesday.
Home Instead will be helping nearly 1,000 seniors this holiday season by delivering gifts from their wish list.
"They are folks who are either low-income or they are just isolated, lonely," Voedman said. "They don't have family, and a lot of them, this will be the only gifts that they receive for the holiday. The impact for seniors is huge."
Seniors provide organizers with a wish list of three gifts. They are then written on paper ornaments and hung on trees across Central Oregon. Vloedman says the numbers this year match those before the pandemic.
"We partner with places like the Bend Senior Center, Fred Meyer in Bend and Redmond, Wild Ride Brew in Prineville and Redmond is hosting trees for us for the first time this year," she said.
Once gifts are collected, volunteers hold a gift-wrapping party to prepare for delivery. This year, Home Instead says they'll need even more volunteers, with the growing need and numbers.
May Mobbs, community relations coordinator and volunteer at the Bend Home Instead office, said, "Last year, we had about 100 different volunteers that came together to wrap presents and deliver them as well, and it was just really heartwarming to see the community come together. We're serving more and more seniors each year, and we're only able to do that because the community involvement."
The organization aims to deliver gifts to every senior in need this year, but for those who didn't get what they asked for, volunteers will purchase gifts.
"Every year, we do have a certain percentage of tags and seniors' wishes that aren't fulfilled," Mobbs said. "So monetary donations directly to our Home Instead franchise are used to make sure each and every senior that submitted a gift wish is given a gift this year."
“The holidays can be hard for many older adults, especially those who may not have a companion to share them with, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the impact that Be a Santa to a Senior has had over the past 20 years,” Mobbs said. “Gifts aside, the true value is the connection Be a Santa to a Senior makes between the community and our older neighbors.”
To participate, shoppers can look for Be a Santa to a Senior trees or displays at locations around the area. Ornaments featuring the name and desired gifts of an older adult will be on display, and shoppers can buy the requested gifts and return them unwrapped to the location with the ornament attached. Ornaments will be available until Dec. 11. The gifts will be delivered to local older adults in time for the holidays.
Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at the following locations:
- Bend Fred Meyer, 61535 S Hwy 97, Bend, 97702, OR
- Bend Partners in Care, 2075 NE Wyatt Ct., Bend, 97701, OR
- Bend River Promenade, 3188 N Hwy 97, Bend, 97701, OR
- Bend Senior Center, 1600 SE Reed Market Rd, Bend, 97702, OR
- Bend Waypoint Hotel (donation box), 1415 NE 3rd St., Bend, 97701, OR
- Bend Whispering Winds (donation box), 2920 NE Conners Ave, Bend, 97701, OR
- La Pine Activity Center, 16450 Victory Way, La Pine, 97739, OR
- La Pine Beauty Bar Salon (donation box), 51470 US-97 #3A, La Pine, 97739, OR
- La Pine Wetlands Taphouse, 51375 US-97, La Pine, 97739, OR
- Madras Chamber of Commerce, 274 SW 4th St., Madras, 97741, OR
- Prineville Erickson's Thriftway (donation box), 315 NW 3rd St., Prineville, 97754, OR
- Prineville Wild Ride Brew, 1500 NE 3rd St., Prineville, 97754, OR
- Redmond Fred Meyer, 944 SW Veterans Way, Redmond, 97756, OR
- Redmond Wild Ride Brew, 332 SW 5th St., Redmond, 97756, OR
- Madras Bowl & Pizza, 66 NE A St., Madras, 97741, OR
Be a Santa to a Senior brings together the entire community, with support from local businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, volunteers, and countless other community members. The Home Instead office serving Bend has partnered with Meals on Wheels, Council on Aging of Central Oregon, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, Hospice of Redmond, Partners in Care Hospice, St. Charles Hospice and Housing Works to assist with gift collection and distribution.
For more information visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call (541) 330-6400.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD, AN HONOR COMPANY
Home Instead, Inc. and its parent company, Honor, are expanding the world’s capacity to care. With the world’s largest home care network and the most advanced care platform, Honor and Home Instead are revolutionizing care for older adults, their families, and Care Professionals. Home Instead, Inc. is the premier home care franchisor through its network of independently owned and operated Home Instead franchise businesses. Combined, the network has more than 100,000 Care Professionals across 12 countries, meeting the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide. For more information, visit joinhonor.com and homeinstead.com.