BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Perhaps no one outgrows “stockings hung by the chimney with care” and “visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads.” Assistance League® of Bend volunteers ensure that the holiday wishes of local seniors are fulfilled through the nonprofit’s annual Secret Santa program.
Seniors at 17 long-term care facilities in Bend, La Pine, Redmond and Sisters will receive special holiday gifts, hand-picked for them by their Secret Santa.
Facility representatives speak with residents and obtain personalized gift requests, including size, color and interests. Many of the requests are touchingly simple — a plump pillow, a cozy blanket, warm socks in a favorite color, towels and underclothes. Others reflect long-held interests such as a book on military history, crossword puzzle books, love of animals — or a sweet tooth — chocolates and caramel corn.
The volunteers enjoy hunting for the perfect gifts to brighten the holidays for the often-forgotten seniors. With the pandemic, some items, like sweat shirts and sweat pants, were hard to find last year as the country hunkered down at home.
One volunteer shopper shared that “even Amazon was out of all but a few small sizes in neon colors. This year, I’m doing my Secret Santa shopping early!”
The “Secret Santa Squad,” dressed in holiday colors and festive Santa hats, will load up their “sleighs” and deliver the beautifully decorated packages to 341 seniors on Thursday, just in time for Christmas.
“The enthusiasm from both Assistance League of Bend members and our community volunteers will make a happy difference in the lives of seniors this year,” says Meredith Kellogg, Secret Santa program chair. “To be able to fulfill a request for something as simple as a pair of fuzzy slippers, new pajamas or a ‘really red’ lipstick reminds us that kindness is easy!”
In addition to the dedicated members and valued community volunteers, employees from Hooker Creek, Salon Essenza, AmeriTitle, and members of Temple Beth Tikvah are contributing gifts for seniors through the Secret Santa program this year.
The Secret Santa program is just one part of Assistance League of Bend’s outreach to seniors in need. Through their Senior Caring program, they provide complimentary personal care items like shampoo, body wash, lotion, shaving cream and toothpaste to low-income seniors in the long term care facilities throughout the year.
They also recently began creating birthday and “thinking of you” greeting cards, containing handwritten personal messages, for the residents who likely need encouragement during a confusing and isolating time through their Senior Connections program.
Contact Secret Santa at email@example.com or 541-389-2075, to learn more about the gift program.
Assistance League of Bend is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization making a difference in the lives of children and adults facing hardship like poverty, homelessness and cancer in Deschutes County. Please visit their website www.assistanceleague.org/bend for more information.
The Assistance League of Bend is also a 21 Cares for Kids partner.