The holidays can be challenging for older adults dealing with isolation. With many of the societal restrictions in place right now, the next few months could prove even more difficult. ElderCircle’s “Santa Smiles” can bring holiday cheer to many isolated older adults who are lonely during this holiday season by providing gifts and companionship.

For the seventh year in a row, ElderCircle is offering the annual “Santa Smiles” to bring attention, connection and a few gifts into the lives of seniors.

“Older adults who experience isolation in a regular year are probably going to be even more isolated this year,” said Renee Bymark, Executive Director of ElderCircle. “Santa Smiles can provide a ray of hope for many who are lonely during this holiday season by showing compassion and that they are not forgotten.”

Santa Smiles has compiled a list of older adults who may live alone, or who may have little to no contact with loved ones or friends during the holidays. Each participating older adult has identified 1-2 items that they would like to receive as gifts, which are oftentimes as practical as postage stamps or new dish towels. Instead of selecting a tag from a tree as in years past, community members are encouraged to select a person (names are anonymous) from the list distributed by ElderCircle to shop for one or both of the suggested gift ideas for that person. Unwrapped gift items with the gift tag number must be dropped off on or before Friday, Dec. 11 in the tote outside of ElderCircle’s office (in the YMCA), or individuals can ring the doorbell during office hours: Monday-Thursday 8:00-4:30 and Fridays 8:00-3:00 and a staff person will assist them. Gifts will then be beautifully wrapped and hand delivered to the corresponding older adult the week of Christmas.

Tags will also be available at Northwoods Acupuncture and Wellness Center, located at 304 N. Pokegama Avenue, Grand Rapids.

“We are concerned about older adults in our community who may not receive a gift or visit for the holidays, so we decided to help collect gifts for the Santa Smiles program this year,”said Amy Dolan of Northwoods Acupuncture.

Monetary donations are also welcome to offset the cost of wrapping paper and supplies, and to purchase any gifts not donated. These can be sent to ElderCircle at 400 River Rd Suite 1, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Contact ElderCircle at 218-999-9233 x277 or ecircle@eldercircle.org for questions.

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