Bringing Christmas to Seniors: Local program surprises seniors with gifts
December 18, 2016
Saturday morning's frigid, cold air didn't stop Santa and helpers from going door to door of seniors.
Kevin Broward, dressed as Santa, approached an apartment complex on Musser Street with his team. Dangled between their raw, chilly fingers were gift bags containing a variety of items donated by the community members.
When Mitsu Uramoto answered her door, she couldn't help but cry with happiness.
"I'm supposed to see my daughter sometime soon," she said. "But I'm not sure when. This made my day."
Behind the white beards, velvet coats and Santa hats are local volunteers of Friends to All, a local non-profit program. The volunteers started at 9 a.m. Saturday preparing their gifts and costumes.
For the last 17 years, the group has helped meet the needs of those with limited financial resources who are homebound or in care centers, with little or no family in the area.
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Each year, about 150 visits take place in the Carson City area.
"This is my way of giving back to the community, and I love it," said Broward, who has volunteered as Santa for the last four years. "It's a great opportunity to give heart."
Volunteers divided up into 12 teams, each provided with seven addresses in Carson City. The starting point was at A+ Paralegals Inc. on Third Street.
"We've been involved with the program for the last three years," said Collette Teuscher, president of A+ Paralegals. "This is something we want to keep doing for the community."
The event is made possible through generous donations from local businesses and members of the community. Donators also provide recommendations of seniors to visit; this is how the group gathers addresses.
"We get referrals from people who have donated to us for years," said Gwen Currie Pradere, one of the founders of the program. "We had a few new seniors to visit because of it."
Three local businesses — A+ Paralegals, Bradway Properties and Coldwell Banker Select — hosted as drop-off points for donations. Donations included activity books, warm clothing and accessories, and grocery gift cards for seniors to use. The seniors also get their picture taken with Santa and have it sent to them by mail.
All together, they presented 150 gifts this year, thanks to the community's contributions. If money is donated, it becomes grocery store gift cards for the seniors who get visited.
"It's not so much about the dollar amounts anymore," Currie Pradere said. "We received a lot of gifts this year and it's fantastic."
Currie Pradere also added she hopes to gain more volunteers in the future. This year, there were quite a few first-timers, representing as Santa's Helpers.
For Monica Klesitz with tears in her eyes, she already enjoyed her first experience with Uramoto.
"It's pretty heartwarming," Klesitz said. "I didn't know something like this existed until I heard it from word-of-mouth. I'll be doing it again next year."