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November 25. 2012 8:51PM

Manchester program bringing Santa to solitary seniors

MANCHESTER - A local organization is running a gift-giving drive for a group its organizers say may be overlooked in the midst of the giving that happens with each holiday season.

The Be A Santa For A Senior program, run by Home Instead Senior Care, looks to provide a bit of Christmas cheer to senior citizens who may be alone during Christmas.

"The idea behind this program is to remember and recognize the seniors in our community that so often are forgotten, lonely or financially challenged," said Pattie Hayes, the program's community relations director. "This program brings the magic and the warmth of the holidays to them."

It works fairly simply. A donor selects an ornament from a tree at several participating locations, including at the Home Instead office on Middle Street. The ornament has a name and a gift wish on it. The donor gets the gift and brings it back to be delivered to the senior.

Hayes said the statewide program, which began in 2008, is part of a national drive to make sure seniors are not forgotten among the numerous other programs to benefit disadvantaged children.

"Rightly so, the children are important," Hayes said. "At the same time, the other end of the spectrum tends to be forgotten."

Hayes said the program typically collects about 300 to 500 gifts each year, but she said she would "like to have the problem" of having to deliver more than 1,000 gifts.

"Three hundred to 500 gifts is just the tip of the iceberg of the need that is out there," she said.

The program has a deadline of Dec. 10 to provide a gift. More information about the program, including ways to give or become a sponsor, is available at beasantatoasenior.com.

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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