Home Instead Senior Care runs annual program to provide Christmas gifts to homebound seniors

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - THREE JOLLY ELVES - Working to spread holiday cheer to seniors in Tigard and Washington County are Matt McCann (left), owner of McCann's Pharmancy & Medical Equipment; Jean Blackburn, certified senior advisor and referral relationship manager for Home Instead Senior Care; and Mike Brunt, owner of Home Instead offices in Tigard and HillsboroAt this magical time of year, anyone can "Be a Santa to a Senior" by purchasing a gift for a homebound senior.

Home Instead Senior Care is again teaming up with non-profit agencies and area retailers to sponsor a program that collects, wraps and delivers gifts to lonely and needy seniors.

McCann's Pharmacy & Medical Equipment in King City is working with Home Instead on the program by hanging a wreath in the post office area filled with tags on which there are requests for gifts under $25 from seniors served on the Tigard Senior Center's Loaves & Fishes' Meals-On-Wheels routes.

Shoppers at McCann's may choose a tag, purchase a gift and return it along with the tag to any McCann's clerk through Dec. 4.

Home Instead prepared a list of several gift items that was delivered along with meals to seniors on the Tigard Meals-On-Wheels route so they could choose a gift; options included towels; note cards and stamps; a hat, scarf, gloves or socks; a fleece blanket throw; a gift card; or one of the most popular - a surprise chosen by the gift-giver.

"The most popular was towels, followed by note cards and stamps, and third was a surprise," said Jean Blackburn, a certified senior advisor and referral relationship manager for the Home Instead Tigard and Hillsboro offices.

One of the most poignant requests this year was from a senior asking for scraps of yarn to make hats, according to Blackburn.

Mike Brunt, owner of Home Instead Senior Care offices in Tigard and Hillsboro, added, "'Be a Santa to a Senior' gives back to older adults in our area, many of whom have had significant, positive influences in our lives. During this season of giving, we encourage shoppers to buy a little extra to say thank you to these community members.

"This is the fifth or sixth year we have done this. Every year we do something, but this year, it is bigger and better than ever."

He said that 150 seniors will be served, including 62 in the Tigard area plus another 64 in Forest Grove and Hillsboro.

Matt McCann, owner of McCann's, noted that McCann's and Home Instead have a good partnership going with this program, and he added, "Last year, we ran out of tags," to which Blackburn responded, "We brought you more."

She added, "Each franchise owner can do his or her own thing. We enjoy doing this. Students at Hillsboro and Forest Grove schools made cards to go with the gifts, and Hillsboro Senior Center seniors will decorate gift bags to put the gifts in for delivery."

The gifts will be delivered the week of Dec.11, and Blackburn isn't worried that all the tags won't be taken.

Standing in McCann's, she said, "While I was getting set up, a lady came by and said, 'I was hoping you were going to do this again this year,' and she took two tags. Another woman asked what happened if there were a few tags left over, and I told her that we would take care of them."

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