Members of the Windham Police Department and volunteers from Home Instead of Gorham teamed up to deliver Christmas cheer to senior residents of Windham and Raymond on Dec. 21.
Throughout the holiday season, Home Instead’s “Senior Santa Program” collected gifts at participating locations after setting up special trees at Chute’s Restaurant and Blue Seal Feed Store in Windham decorated with ornaments handmade by local Girl Scouts and featuring area seniors’ first names and gift suggestions and requests.
Participants chose an ornament as a keepsake, then purchased the requested presents and return them unwrapped in a holiday gift bag to the tree’s location with the ornament tag attached. Program organizers say that the gifts are always needed and appreciated by local seniors. Gifts distributed by police and volunteers this year included knitted or crocheted hats and scarves; plush throws; body creams for dry or sensitive skin; men’s and women’s gloves; snacks (both sugar and sugar-free); 2022 calendars; puzzle books; stationary; stamps; grocery store gift certificates; tissue paper and large sturdy Christmas gift bags. Kathy Damon, a home care consultant for Home Instead, said that the “Senior Santa Program” delivered gifts to 755 recipients throughout Cumberland County this year, thanks to the generosity of the community and the support of many volunteers.
“For some seniors receiving the gifts they have very modest requests, and the best part of doing this comes when the gifts are delivered to them,” Damon said. “They are just so appreciative and grateful.”
She said that the outpouring of community support for this program continues to amaze her.
“People who do this seem to be over-the-top generous,” she said.
In developing the list of seniors who received gifts this year from the program, Damon said many of the recipients do not have families or are financially strapped. She said gift requests ranged from meals to a warm pair of socks to winter coat and boots and the “Senior Santa Program” did its best to make sure their gift requests were achieved.
The program is open to all seniors in Cumberland County, although they need to be referred through an agency such as Windham’s Ledgewood Manor.
“It’s very heartwarming to know this program is so well received in the community,” she said.
Damon said the “Senior Santa Program” connects some isolated seniors with friends and neighbors who want them to know they are not forgotten during the holiday season.
“I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.” <