Checking off the ‘Nice List’

Home Instead Senior Care’s gift donations brighten the season 

As humans, we need more than just the basics — we need connection and community, a sense that someone cares. Fortunately, Home Instead Senior Care has much more than the basics covered. In business for 25 years as of February 2022, Home Instead is known throughout Birmingham for taking excellent non-medical care of seniors. According to Andrea Martin, director of operations, non-medical care can include almost anything from housekeeping and transportation assistance to meal preparation and providing friendship. While they cannot administer IV medications or draw blood, Home Instead staff also suggests medical care when necessary. 

As the festive season approaches, Home Instead is preparing one of their most popular and most heartfelt programs — Be a Santa to a Senior. The history of this holiday gifting program started right here in Alabama and was soon adopted by Home Instead’s corporate office, according to Martin – though each franchise gives the program their own unique touch. For Home Instead of Birmingham, instead of each donor choosing one senior to “adopt,” donor gifts are delivered to many seniors who might otherwise not have a merry holiday. 

“This program isn’t for our clients; they tend to have financial means,” Martin notes. “These gifts go to seniors who are isolated and under served in our area.”

To help them locate seniors who would benefit from good cheer, Home Instead partners with Meals on Wheels for the program. Gift bags are stuffed with thoughtful items such as cozy blankets, warm socks, gentle soaps, sugar-free candies and entertaining games or puzzles. Prior to the pandemic, donors generously purchased and decorated gift bags for the items themselves, but Martin and staff have simplified the process further by having gift bags already on hand. Donors are reminded it’s time to buy Santa gifts through social media, email blasts, flyers and other marketing materials, and those who are stumped for ideas can refer to the Amazon Wish Lists. 

The group Stitching for Jesus — which meets each Monday and consists of 30 women from various churches in the area —  is happy to participate in the program each year with knitted, crocheted and sewn contributions.. “We are always looking for new places to share the things we make,” says Rhonda Whaley. “All of our items are given to people or organizations for free. We welcome new members and always appreciate donations of material, thread and yarn.”

Whaley said the positive feedback and knowing these items uplift those “who need special encouragement in their lives” is what inspires the group members. “We love how this program helps seniors,” she says. 

Martin revealed that about 475 seniors who might otherwise have nothing to unwrap in December received gifts last year. 

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