Gateway: News

13th annual Be a Santa to a Senior program brings gifts to nearly 300 local seniors

The holiday season is in full swing with community members and local organizations busy spreading some holiday cheer to all ages.

Returning for its 13th year is the Be a Santa to a Senior program from Home Instead Senior Care, dedicated to making the holidays bright for almost 300 local seniors through Gig Harbor, the Key Peninsula and Kitsap County.

The program gathers presents and delivers them to local seniors in retirement or care facilities in time for holiday parties, said Todd O’Neill, owner of the Kitsap County & Gig Harbor Home Instead Senior Care office.

“It can be a lonely time. It can be a time that’s a little more depressing,” he said of the holidays. “We often think of children this time of year but we also need to remember other vulnerable populations.”

The holidays can be difficult for seniors living a distance away from their families or who may not have any living family, O’Neill said.

The Be a Santa to a Senior program has been gathering gift suggestions and donations for months and began delivering packages earlier this week so that the gifts would be in place for holiday celebrations.

“We’re going to get them all there by their holiday parties,” O’Neill said. “It’s good to be able to bring a little bit of joy at a time when the intensity of feeling lonely might be increasing.”

While the Be a Santa to a Senior program is in its final stages for the year, O’Neill has several opportunities available for anyone interested in supporting local seniors, with the biggest upcoming event being the annual Alzheimer’s walk, scheduled for fall 2017.

Another opportunity to help seniors is through a caregiving position. O’Neill said that Home Instead Senior Care provides training for this role and are always looking for those interested in this profession.

“If you have a heart for caregiving and you want to find out more about what it takes to become a caregiver, we would be interested in talking to you,” he said. “It is a really rewarding profession.”

The Be a Senior to a Santa program will return next holiday season, with O’Neill hopeful for more names to receive gifts.

“We hope to gain more momentum in the coming years,” he said. “It’s just a great way for us to help these seniors who either don’t have family nearby or family at all.”

The Home Instead Senior Care Kitsap County & Gig Harbor office can be reached online at or by calling 360-782-4663.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea