(WNY News Now) – MAYVILLE, NY – A nationally recognized program that delivers holiday cheers to isolated older adults in Chautauqua County gets underway soon.
In tandem with community partners and several volunteers, Chautauqua County’s Office for Aging Services distributes gifts and a holiday meal to more than 200 isolated older adults each year as part of the “Santa for Seniors” campaign.
“During the holiday season, an incredible collaboration takes place among community organizations and dedicated volunteers who gather items, raise funds, carefully pack boxes, and personally deliver them to individuals identified by community and government agencies,” said Dr. Mary Ann Spanos, Director of the Office for Aging Services. “We are immensely grateful for the unwavering support of our community, as it is their generosity and compassion that make ‘Santa for Seniors’ possible.”
The Rev. J. Paul Womack Christmas Basket Fund has been getting ready, raising funds to provide a holiday meal for all these Seniors that will be getting these special visits.
“Delivery elves” will begin spreading holiday cheer next week, with gift packing and wrapping taking place on Tuesday at the First Baptist Church at 59 S. Erie St., in Mayville, NY.
Deliveries are slated to ship out on Thursday from the Hurlbut Memorial Community United Methodist Church at Chautauqua to the Baptist Church. As part of this initiative, “elves” are asked to socialize with recipients as well.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have exceptional community partners involved in our Santa for Seniors’ program,” explained Dana Corwin, Deputy Director for Chautauqua County’s Office for Aging Services. “Their dedication and coordination are the driving force behind its success year after year. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our numerous volunteers, the First Baptist Church of Mayville, NY, and the Rev. J. Paul Womack Christmas Basket Fund at Hurlburt Church in Chautauqua, NY for their generous contributions.”
Over the years, the community has come together to not only donate gifts, but also, donated monetarily to support printing and postage costs, including those with the Mayville Baptist Church, who in years past donated funds ($1,688) to fill each gift box.
The Rev. J. Paul Womack Christmas Basket Fund additionally donated over $4,100 in past years to provide holiday meals, which was delivered in insulated bags. Total costs in 2022 were $36 per client. The preparation takes place at Hurlbut Memorial Community United Methodist Church.
“As W.C. Jones beautifully expressed, the joy of brightening others’ lives, sharing burdens, lightening loads, and filling empty hearts and lives with generous gifts is the true magic of the holiday season,” continued Corwin. “It is this very sentiment that fuels our program.”
In total, “Santa for Seniors” results in outreach to 30 new older adults each year.
“County employees, donors, church members, and all volunteers are warmly encouraged to bring their children, grandchildren, or other family members to engage with the individuals being served by Chautauqua County’s Office for Aging Services. This initiative has beautifully showcased that the visit itself holds equal significance alongside the gift,” continued Dr. Spanos, who emphasized the importance of personal connections and meaningful interactions.
Earlier this year, the “Santa for Seniors” program was highlighted by USAging at the group’s national conference in Salt Lake City.
About the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services – Directed by Dr. Mary Ann Spanos, the Office for Aging Services’ mission is to provide programs and services to seniors and their families that promote independence, optimal health and wellness in a safe and secure environment. Need help? Call NY Connect to speak with special trained operators at (716) 753-4582. For more information visit: chqgov.com/office-aging/Office-for-the-Aging.