The Herald-Times
By Dann Denny
331-4350 |

You don’t have to have a corpulent body, rosy cheeks and a white beard to be Santa Claus this year, thanks to the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program.

All you have to do is go to the Kroger store on College Mall Road Nov. 19-21, and find several Christmas trees adorned with ornaments containing the first names of needy seniors and their respective gift requests.

You can then grab an ornament, buy the requested items and return them unwrapped to the store — along with the ornament. Staff from Home Instead Senior Care and a group of volunteers will collect, wrap and distribute the gifts to the seniors.

Since its inception five years ago, the program has placed more than 1,500 gifts into the hands of needy seniors.

“Be a Santa to a Senior is a great way to give back to the older adults in the community during the hectic holiday season when many are forgotten,”

said Janet Barrows, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office, which provides nonmedical home care and companionship for older adults. “It’s a way to show our gratitude to those older adults who have contributed so much to our community.”

A citywide gift-wrapping day, when hundreds of the presents will be wrapped, will take place Dec. 14 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Sterling House. If you want to help on gift-wrapping day, contact Barrows at 812-961-2222.

Barrows said the holiday season is often considered a time for children, but seniors — especially those who are isolated and lonely — need to be remembered as well.

“Be a Santa to a Senior also is designed to help stimulate human contact and social interaction for older adults who are unlikely to have guests during the holidays,” she said.

The program is being offered through Home Instead Senior Care, Area 10 Agency on Aging, Sterling House, Meals on Wheels, Indiana Home Health, Bloomington Nursing and Rehabilitation and Kroger on College Mall Road.

The local nonprofit organizations identify needy and isolated seniors in the community and provide their names to Home Instead Senior Care. For more information about the program, see