As many as 30 El Dorado County seniors will have an opportunity to do their Christmas shopping — with a little help from Santa’s helpers.
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On Dec. 10, the seniors, each accompanied by a caregiver or a Friends of Seniors volunteer will be transported to Target for a morning of shopping. Then they will return to the Mother Lode Lions Hall in Diamond Springs for a festive holiday lunch with volunteers who will help them wrap their gifts.
“I love doing things like this,” said Pete Messimore, chairman of the Senior Santa project. “Age is all about loss and with this project, Friends of Seniors is trying to give back to seniors some of the things they’ve lost: the ability to make friends, the ability to go out and about and shop, and the ability to help someone else.”
The Senior Santa project by Friends of Seniors is designed to support senior citizens in the community who cannot afford to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones and who have a difficult time getting out and about.
Friends of Seniors is a non-profit local volunteer organization that advocates for quality programs, facilities and services for seniors. Through fundraising, gifts, bequests and scholarships they support the enhancement of senior programs.
Senior Santa is just one of the projects Friends of Seniors has developed to help seniors in the community.
“The community always tries to take care of our children at Christmas but seniors can be forgotten,” said Kathi Lishman, chairman of Friends of Seniors.
More than just helping out with Christmas shopping, Senior Santa’s purpose is to provide an opportunity for seniors to socialize and get out into the community.
“If they can make a new friend, exchange phone numbers, then my job is done,” said Messimore.
Utilizing the knowledge of their members who volunteer in senior programs all over the county, FOS reached into community organizations that serve seniors to generate a list of those who would benefit from the Senior Santa program.
Now the focus of the organization is to raise the funds for the project.
As of the first week in November, FOS was only $180 away from its goal of $2,150 for the project.
“We’re trying to raise at least $2,150 so that each senior will have $75 to spend,” said Lishman.
Each Senior Santa senior will receive a Target gift card for $75 which they can use to purchase Christmas gifts for friends and family or to spend on things that they need.
“After we reach our goal, the donations from this year will fund next year’s Senior Santa,” said Messimore. “You can bet we’ll be sending out grant letters in January.”
Community sponsors from individuals to businesses have gotten behind the project with financial donations and donations of food, drink and materials for the luncheon.
FOS has the use of the El Dorado County shuttle bus, a motorhome and volunteer vehicles to transport the seniors and their accompanying volunteers to Target in El Dorado Hills for their morning of shopping.
The Leo Club of Union Mine High School will meet the seniors back at the Lions Hall where they will help with the gift wrapping.
Anyone wishing to give back this holiday season by donating to Senior Santa may send donations to Friends of Seniors/Marshall Foundation, PO Box 564, Placerville, 95667.