You don't need a white beard and rosy cheeks to be Santa this Christmas - just a warm heart.
In the coming weeks, shoppers will be able to send gifts to local seniors through the Be a Santa to a Senior gift-giveaway program.
This is the seventh year Home Instead Senior Care will hold the event, said Sarah Hevner, office manager for the West Manchester Township branch.
The event aims to reach out to seniors who might not get many visitors around the holidays, she said.
"That generation has just given so much, and we just want to do our part to give back," Hevner said.
Last year, nearly 800 gifts were given in York, she said. One of them - a simple scarf - was enough to put one senior in tears and call Home Instead in thanks, Hevner said.
"It's just the little things that clearly touch them," she said.
How it works: Starting Nov. 18, Christmas trees will be set up at Boscov's Department Store at the York Galleria, 2989 Whiteford Road in Springettsbury Township, and at Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists at 1855 Powder Mill Road in York Township.
Home Instead gathers names of seniors in need from local aging agencies and health centers and puts their names and gift requests on the trees' ornaments, Hevner said.
Gift donors select an ornament, purchase a present and return the unwrapped gift and ornament to the store or Home Instead office - no wrapping necessary, she said.
"Well see that it gets wrapped," Hevner said, as lots of volunteers and staff work to make sure each gift is presented nicely and to the right recipient.
The trees come down Dec. 13, but gifts will be accepted at Home Instead through the week of the 16th, when volunteers finish up wrapping, Hevner said.
The program is initiated by Home Instead headquarters in Omaha, Neb., and most of its offices run their own programs throughout North America, she said.
-Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.