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Crow Wing Energized: Bring the holiday cheer with Be a Santa to a Senior

Holiday cheer is what we can do. It is what we, as a community, can do for our seniors. It makes a difference.

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Deb Cranny, left, Angie Brickweg, and Katelin Hohertz sort through presents Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, during the Be a Santa to a Senior drive. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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As November rolls around we all start to feel the holiday cheer sneaking into society.

Stores get busier — yay for the Brainerd lakes area economy! — Christmas trees and lights begin to fill homes, all of a sudden there are treats everywhere, and, like many others, I begin to focus on how unbelievably grateful I am for everything I have. This gratitude leads to the question of how can I serve others? How can I bring joy, cheer and the hope of the holidays to other people?

I personally know how generous and charitable the community members of the Brainerd lakes area are. We all know it and feel it. So as this holiday cheer fills the community, we at Home Instead get very excited for our holiday cheer and the Be a Santa to a Senior program. For 13 years we have been able to hand-deliver Christmas gifts to local seniors. Talk about some holiday cheer.

Our first order of business is collecting names of local seniors to receive a Christmas gift. That is it, no criteria, no rules, just a senior in the Brainerd lakes area community. Unfortunately, seniors are often alone and can suffer from grief and loneliness. Loneliness because of spouses, family members or friends passing away or because it's simply more challenging to travel for the holidays. And, to add to it, we continue to be fearful of getting and spreading illness. Being able to brighten a senior’s world and bring them holiday cheer is a true honor.

Seniors’ names are provided by local agencies, living facilities and community members. If you know a senior that deserves a Christmas gift, give us a call 218-824-0077 or email Katelin.hohertz@homeinstead.com .

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Be a Santa to A Senior is organized by us at Home Instead but it truly is a community program. Christmas trees filled with tags go up at local businesses by Nov. 29 where the community can then pick a tag, purchase and wrap the gift then return to the tree or the Home Instead office at 13432 Elmwood Drive, Suite No. 24, Baxter, by Dec. 13. It’s the added touches that make a world of difference, children drawing pictures to add to the gift, a handwritten card, or something a little extra, you know, that holiday cheer.

Something that I feel is even more special about the program is these seniors ask for things such as lotion, warm socks, a lap blanket, very simple things that they enjoy and make their daily life a little brighter.

As the hundreds of gifts fill the Home Instead office and we scramble to get them organized by location, last year my office was “Crosby” and there were some beautiful gifts heading to Crosby, the absolute best part about this program arrives, delivery day! On Dec. 21, with the help of volunteers, we will hand-deliver each and every gift to the seniors. In 2020, we were able to deliver 494 gifts. That is 494 packages of holiday cheer!

Holiday cheer is what we can do. It is what we, as a community, can do for our seniors. It makes a difference. Because of the nameless nature of the program, Home Instead gets many, many calls of tears, joy and gratitude from seniors who cannot believe the magic of the holiday cheer they received.

The Brainerd lakes community is like none other and we are honored to be able to have so much support to impact hundreds of seniors during the holiday season. So join us, nominate a senior or fill a tag. Help us bring holiday cheer to seniors in our community.

We are all honored to be able to coordinate this program, contact us with any questions. We cannot wait to see what holiday cheer we can spread this year.

Crow Wing Energized logo
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

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