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Becoming Santa to a Senior Citizen

1:42 PM, Dec 4, 2007   |    comments
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By Angela Spears First Coast News ORANGE PARK, FL -- Children love Christmas! So too do adults. Sometimes senior citizens don't always have family to share the holiday with and are often alone. One organization, Home Instead, is collecting gifts and playing Santa to seniors. Seniors like Elsa and Neilson Giles get excited just like kids. They are always on the go. They've been married for 31 years. Boy do they like to have fun. Mrs. Neilson says, "We very much like to go partying if we can." They spend just about every day at the Orange Park Senior Center. According to Mrs. Giles, "We play different games. We play cards. We play bingo." They love to dance too. They live life to the fullest. At 76 and 78, they know there is a Santa Claus. They got gifts last year as part of Home Instead's "To be a Santa to a Senior" program. Mrs. Giles told First Coast News she received a "beautiful pair of pajamas. It keeps me so warm, keeps me very warm. I love it." Her husband got a pillow case and slippers. This year the Giles have another list for Ole' St. Nick. For Mrs. Giles, "I have a beautiful, medium sized list, it's not long. I have like Cardigans, more pillows, blankets. Warm things. I'm a warm person. I love the warm." Mr. Giles says, "Well my list is not a long list. I wouldn't say a medium list." The word is, he too has a long list. "Really?" His wife added a few things. Mr. Giles says he just wants more pillows and a blanket. He feels this program lets him know people care about senior citizens. It also brings back a piece of his childhood. "I myself, I remember those days when I was a child, we looked forward to Santa. We were so elated, not sleeping in the night." Mrs. Giles has just one request. "We love Santa. Please come Santa, please come." In fact, she says she would welcome Santa Claus twice a year if possible. She and her husband will even leave out cookies. Jami Kelly, an employee with Home Instead, says her agency has being doing the "To be a Santa to a Senior" program for more than 5 years. It's for any senior citizen in Duval, Clay or Alachua Counties. It does not matter if they have kids or grandkids. Mrs. Giles has 6 kids. She told First Coast News she has 8 or 9 grandchildren and 7 great grandkids. Mr. Giles has 6 children, more than 25 grandkids and ten great grandkids. Despite that, they are very thankful for their presents. And they hope they and other seniors get more. Kelly says more than 500 people have signed up. Seniors have asked for robes, slippers, sweat suits and food for Christmas. Kelly says one person just asked for someone to visit her. You can get ornaments with the wish lists on them at certain Wal-Mart stores, Sam's and Carter Pharmacy. You can also call Home Instead at (904)215-8520 or click on the link above for more information. The deadline is December 12th.

First Coast News

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