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Be a Santa to a York County senior


Everyone deserves to be thought of around the holiday season, but those living alone or without much family rarely receive presents that have been wrapped in festive paper and topped with bright bows like many do at Christmastime.

Home Instead Senior Care, which offers a variety of companionship and care services to the elderly, has taken steps to make sure isolated senior citizens are not forgotten.

Be a Santa to a Senior, a national program, has brought gifts to many since it first started in York County eight years ago, said Doug Hevner, the general manager and owner of York County's Home Instead Senior Care center.

The first year, the initiative raked in around 50 gifts for elderly people in the community, he said, adding the program grows every single year.

"It's taken on a life of its own," Hevner said, noting that Home Instead now partners with nonprofits and local senior centers. "Now it generally benefits between 700 and 1,000 people, and we're real proud that we can get gifts to those who would normally go without. These people are certainly deserving and worthy."

The gifts: Trees covered with gift tags have been placed at Boscov's Department Store in the York Galleria mall and in the lobby of Orthopaedic Spine Specialist Health & Hospital on Powder Mill Road in York Township.

"Of course the biggest thing you could possibly do is go to one of the trees and select a gift tag and purchase a gift for an isolated senior," Hevner said.

Each tag has the name of a local senior and a gift personalized to his or her needs or wishes. A number on the tag corresponds with information in Home Instead Senior Care's database, which allows them to deliver the gifts as the holidays approach.

Yorkers interested in acting as Santa and purchasing a present can pick up a tag at either location. They're asked to bring the gift to the place where they picked up the tag or to drop it off at the Home Instead care center at 1544 Carlisle Road.

The Christmas trees will be removed from their locations on Dec. 17 to allow enough time for organization and the delivery of the gifts, Hevner said.

Volunteering: There are other ways to participate in the program. After all, Hevner said, even Santa needs his elves.

"We definitely need people to help wrap the presents," he said. "We get hundreds of presents here. My employees do as much as they can, but sometimes at the end of the day, you just need a few more hands."

Hevner said the senior care center is looking for delivery drivers. The organization will be delivering the gifts to a number of locations Dec. 21-23.

"We have seen, firsthand, how much this program means to local seniors,"” Hevner said. "Without it, there would be seniors for whom the holidays would pass without even a visit."

Those interested in volunteering can call the center at 717-741-9999.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at