Bringing holiday spirit to Carson seniors | NevadaAppeal.com

Bringing holiday spirit to Carson seniors

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Santa Claus greets Hilda Christensen and her dog MacDuff at her Carson City home on Friday. Gwen Currie, of Friends to All, and Santa Claus brought gifts to the area's seniors including treats for their animals.

Gwen Currie fulfilled her Christmas wish early this year, helping bring a little joy to nearly 150 senior citizens in Carson City.

Dressed in holiday garb, Currie accompanied Santa Claus on his visits Friday to area seniors who were alone or in need of some holiday spirit. It was her second trip spreading holiday cheer hoping to reach a few more people missed during the major push earlier.

“We are doing the final few today after we did most of the ones we wanted to visit last week. Over 40 volunteers visited 130 homes and we hope to do 20 more today,” she said.

Currie is part of Friends to All, a nonprofit organization that assists seniors in the Carson City area. In addition to the holiday visits, the group also performs a yard work drive in the spring to help clean up the landscapes of area seniors.

“We visit those who are homebound and need some holiday spirit this time of year,” she said. “Some of the ones we see are not as needy but lot of them are just lonely.”

The group collects names of those in need of a visit from the Retired Senior Volunteers Program and from residents who nominate their neighbors and friends. Then the group collects donations from area businesses, including supermarket gift cards, hygiene items and treats for pets. Each senior is also given a Polaroid picture of them taken with Santa Claus.

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Hilda Christensen, 78, and her dog, MacDuff, were among those who received a visit from the man in red.

“I’m so shocked, I’ve never had anything like this,” she said.

At first reluctant to talk with Santa, Christensen soon warmed to the guests and shared stories about her life and her wish for 2006.

“I just want my health to stay with me. I have lived in Carson for 50 years and my husband was a policeman and then a state patrolman before he died at age 32, so I’m alone a lot,” Christensen said.

Currie said hesitance by those they visit is not uncommon, but most people are really appreciative once you get them to open up.

“We don’t call them beforehand because most of them say they don’t want a visit, but they all love it when we come,” she said.

This is Currie’s sixth year visiting seniors and has watched the number of people visited each year climb.

“Six years ago a gentleman named Ray Smith asked me to help him, but after that first year he couldn’t do it anymore. But I just couldn’t let it go. I saw the people and how much they appreciated it and I just couldn’t stop doing it,” she said.

Currie was accompanied by Pete Pradere, dressed as Santa, as she made her rounds.

“This is my first year doing it and it will definitely not be the last,” Pradere said. “It’s just heartwarming.”

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.