Springfield nursing home resident says senior holiday gift program is ’a blessing’

KOLR10 Daybreak

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – This holiday season, one group in Springfield is encouraging people to show grandma and grandpa some love – even if they’re not yours! OzarksFirst learned there’s one way you can do this at the Harter House on Republic Road.

It’s called the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program. When you walk into the store, you’ll find a Christmas tree with ornaments on display. These aren’t your average ornaments. Instead, they are individual shopping wish lists that have a senior’s name on them. People can stop by Harter House, grab an ornament, buy the requested gifts and bring it to the store unwrapped with the ornament attached.

OzarksFirst spoke with Don Handley, a senior who says he appreciates this act of kindness.

“Everyone needs love and a big hug once in a while,” Handley said. “It’s time for giving gifts.”

Since he moved into a nursing home in 2017, Handley has been spoiled with presents.

“It’s Christmas time,” Handley said.

Lately, that has meant getting to unwrap some movies, t-shirts and wall decorations.

“It’s a God’s blessing,” Handley said. “I really appreciate everything that the company does for me.”

Handley is talking about Home Instead Senior Care. Owner Chris Blaine says his team is putting together the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program for the 12th year.

“It’s something for the holidays for seniors, especially at that time of year a lot of times, seniors are often not thought of,” Blaine said. “When we looked at it, we saw that there’s a lot of seniors that are isolated, maybe don’t have family or that would otherwise be not thought of at the holidays. Social isolation has been a huge thing.”

Handley says it’s a cause he relates to, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just not being able to have visitors all the time,” Handley said. “I just am so thankful for everything that the company has gotten done for us to keep us well during all of this craziness.”

This Christmas, Blaine says he wants 100 seniors to have a gift.

“So many of the folks that are getting these gifts maybe aren’t seeing their family. They’re not having a lot of interactions outside their own home,” Blaine said. “So this is just a way to let them know that somebody’s thinking about them and wants to make sure that they’re blessed at the holidays.”

Over the years, anywhere from 100 to 300 presents have been given out.

“Just getting a little something can make all the difference in the world for them,” Blaine said.

It certainly has for Handley.

“It makes me feel so good,” Handley said.

From now until December 18, you can stop by the Harter House on Republic Road to grab an ornament and make someone’s holiday an unforgettable one.

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