WILKES-BARRE—For the past nine years, Luzerne’s Home Instead Senior Care has placed trees adorned with ornaments at shops around the Wilkes-Barre area. Each ornament contains the name of a senior who is isolated, needy or may not otherwise have company during the holidays.
Approximately 300 store patrons picked up an ornament, purchased the suggested item and donated it to Home Instead’s Be a Santa to a Senior gift drive. This year’s drive begins Nov. 6 and continues until Dec. 4.
“It’s all about spreading a bit of holiday cheer and spirit to seniors in our area,” Home Instead owner Alyssa Maria said. “We work with the Area Agency on Aging and they identify the needy and isolated seniors in the area. We don’t necessarily know who they are; we just get a first name. The AAoA also identifies a gift request, something they think the seniors could use.”
Four stores are participating in the drive: Walgreens locations in Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and Dallas, along with Walmart in Pittston. Gift requests range from slippers and sweaters to personal care and home cleaning products, but Maria said she often finds extra items, like cookies or candy, added. Items should be left at each respective store’s service desk for pickup by Home Instead volunteers.
The Be a Santa to a Senior gift drive falls in line with Home Instead’s mission as a company.
“We have caregivers who go into senior’s homes and take care of non-medical needs,” Maria said. “They might prepare meals, do light housekeeping or help with Alzheimer’s care. The goal is to help seniors live safely in their homes for as long as possible.”
Maria and her husband purchased the franchise rights for Luzerne Vounty’s Home Instead Senior Care location in 2003. Her grandfather-in-law suffered from Alzheimer’s and, after his wife passed away, struggled to live on his own.
“Another one of his sons and his daughter-in-law live in West Wyoming and invited him over for dinner every night, but he was really lost without his wife,” Maria said. “We saw that there was a need for care and companionship for seniors in Luzerne county, so we found Home Instead and purchased a franchise.”
Home Instead and AAoA will hold a wrapping party at 9 a.m. Dec. 9 at AAoA’s 93 State St. location in Wilkes-Barre. Interested volunteers should contact Home Instead at 570-714-4260.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts