NAPPANEE — Senior citizens will receive gifts, treats and visits during the Christmas holiday thanks to the generosity of grocery shoppers taking part in the Santa for Seniors program.
The program ensures that seniors (60 and older) who are in nursing homes, who have low incomes, or who just may be alone at Christmas, will all receive a couple of Christmas gifts and a visit from one of Santa’s “elves”.
Elder Haus Senior Center Director Connie Fink has partnered with the Nappanee Martin’s Supermarket to provide those gifts. Fink said she takes requests from seniors at the Elder Haus, and those who live at Main Street Manor senior living apartments and Northwood Circle. She said seniors request food items, including nuts or candy — things they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. But more than the gift, it’s just being remembered that means the most to the seniors, Fink said.
Fink said Ruth Clouse at the Nappanee Martin’s Supermarket has been in charge of the program and has worked very hard for years to ensure the success of Santa for Seniors.
Clouse said all Martin’s Supermarkets participate in this program but have different organizations they work with in their respective communities. There is a tree placed in the floral department at the Nappanee location with an ornament and a tag that has the first name of the recipient and an item they’d like to have.
“We ask our customers to take the tag, purchase the item and bring it to the cashier. The bagger will bring the items to my team and we wrap all the gifts and deliver them to the individual personally,” Clouse explained.
She said aside from the items that Fink mentioned, they receive requests for hand lotions, food, soaps and gift cards. They also accept donations of items and monetary donations.
Clouse mentioned one year staff members from a beauty salon brought in items and those items were distributed to those she felt would benefit.
“The thing our consumers like is that we keep the donations in the community,” Clouse said.
Clouse, who said her title is “head elf,” mentioned that Fink oversees the donations for Nappanee and she and her family oversee the donations and deliver to the seniors in Wakarusa. Members of the Boys and Girls Club in Nappanee also help with wrapping gifts and delivering. Both women said they ask the seniors to request three items and they do their best to ensure they receive all three items.
“When we deliver to some of the shut-ins — for these people it’s not so much the gift —i t’s the thought that they’ve been remembered,” Clouse said. “For me, it’s the idea of delivering the gifts and seeing the smiles on their faces.”
Clouse said, “At Christmas the O (in her name) becomes an A and I’m Mrs. Clause and I report to Santa each night,” she laughed.
Seniors for Santa generally is held the first weekend in December.