By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
SLIDELL – Len and Evelyn Snyder are still like kids when the holiday season rolls around each year.
It’s not because they are so excited for Christmas morning, when they run into the living room to see what presents Santa has brought them under the tree.
As owners of Home Instead Senior Care that serves all of St. Tammany Parish, the Snyders joined with the national Home Instead corporate office in a program called “Be a Santa to a Senior.”
The program, with the help of six Rouse’s Supermarkets in St. Tammany, provides gifts to seniors at Christmas, who otherwise might not be remembered. And now in their 10th year with Home Instead, the Snyders and the staff members at their office are sincerely excited about the holiday season, for the response they get from seniors who receive a present and a card.
“There’s nothing like the enjoyment we get for conducting this program each year,” Len Snyder said. “There are many seniors who live alone, or don’t have family members who visit them in the nursing home when Christmas comes. You would be surprised how many seniors don’t have family nearby, or perhaps have no family living in the area. And the result is that they are often forgotten at Christmas.”
But the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program has changed that for hundreds of seniors each year. For that matter, the program has continually grown and now Home Instead is directing a holiday tradition that brings presents and cards to almost 1,000 seniors.
Snyder is asking the community to again join with them to help make Christmas bright for seniors. To do so, visit any of the local Rouse’s Supermarkets and look for the “Be a Santa to a Senior” tree, located near the front of the store. There are ornaments on the trees with information about specific seniors and the gifts that would be appropriate. Purchase the gift and return it to Rouse’s and give to a store employee.
Home Instead provides home care to hundreds of seniors and already knows many seniors who might be alone for Christmas. But as the program has grown, they have partnered with local nursing homes and the Council on Aging for St. Tammany (COAST) to find other seniors who might not have visitors for Christmas.
“We couldn’t do this alone and we’re thankful for the organizations that help us find the seniors,” Snyder said. “And then we’re also thankful to Rouse’s for partnering with us, and the many people who buy gifts for seniors. That is what makes the program so successful.”
An added touch that began in recent years is that seniors are also now receiving Christmas cards created by area children. This year the cards will come from students at Clearwood Junior Highy and Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
To help with the program, visit any local Rouse’s Supermarkets, or call 985-726-2688 for more information.