Santa for Seniors organizers need another 20 sponsors or so to bring cheer to everyone on their list.
“It’s sort of like a yo-yo. You get all the sponsors and then you get more sen-iors,” said Tammy Bryant, special populations coordinator for Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation.
The RFPRA partners with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office to make sure that elderly people without family or friends nearby get a gift for Christmas. Jimmy Allred of the sheriff’s office started the program 10 years ago, after he saw a woman at his grandmother’s nursing home wait in vain for someone to visit on Christmas Day.
“So many different people do so much for the children, our youth, and that’s so important,” Bryant said. “But, at the same time, we don’t want to forget about our seniors who are alone.”
Last year the program served 101 seniors. This year, they’ve signed up 160. Bryant said sponsors are matched with a senior and typically spend $30 to $40 fulfilling their wish list.
“They’re not shopping blindly,” she said. “If it’s clothes, they’ll have the size. We’ll note if they’re diabetic, or if they can have sweets or snacks.”
It’s up to the sponsor if they want to deliver the gifts or drop them off at the Parker Senior Center in Etowah Park for volunteers to distribute. A delivery is scheduled for Dec. 14. Bryant said the spirit of the season shines through, even if Santa comes early.
“These are people who aren’t used to getting visitors at all,” she said. “When we deliver, it’s amazing to see how happy they are that someone is coming to visit them, let alone bringing them a gift.”
The presents they ask for run the gamut. One woman wanted a Boston terrier figurine to add to her collection, another needed towels, socks, slippers and a silk poinsettia. And then there was the man who asked only for a pair of over-alls.
“You would have thought he hit the jackpot when he opened that present,” she said.
To sponsor a senior, email Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her, 706-234-0383, or Allred, 706-291-4111.
Anyone who’d rather contribute money can make a check out to the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, 2526 New Calhoun Highway, Rome, Georgia, 30161 and earmark it Santa for Seniors.