Area seniors in need will have their holiday wishes come true thanks to a team of volunteers in and around the Lee’s Summit area.
Home Instead Senior Care’s Lee’s Summit location sponsored its annual “Be a Santa to a Senior” program Nov. 8 through Dec. 16 and concluded the drive two days later with a wrap party teeming with volunteers.
Hundreds of gifts will be delivered to area seniors Dec. 20 courtesy Jay Hatfield Mobility of Lee’s Summit, one of many eastern Jackson County organizations that helped sponsor the program. Others included Academy Bank of Lee’s Summit and downtown Lee’s Summit shop The Living Stone.
“I just want to make sure (seniors) get a good Christmas,” said Alayne Webb, the community liaison at Home Instead in Lee’s Summit and the program’s coordinator. She added it was a challenging task to make sure everyone received what was on their wish list. “The goal is to make sure they had one gift. Without our sponsors really hitting it for us it would have been very difficult. I’m painfully organized and I don’t want to leave anyone out. I don’t want anyone in the community opening something and then wonder, ‘where’s my gift?’
“That would be so disappointing to be that one person who didn’t get anything.”
The wrapping party started at 9 a.m. with everyday citizens and repeat volunteers streaming into Home Instead at 233 S.E. Main St. in Lee’s Summit and they stayed well past the 1 p.m. mark that was set. At 4 p.m., a group of girls scouts from Blue Springs and the Prairie Village area of Kansas entered the fray and donated their time, effort and creativity without consideration of a merit badge.
“They actually don’t earn any badges for it,” Webb said of the girl scouts.
Wrapping gifts brought out all the little laughs and giggles one would expect from a crew of elementary-aged girl scouts.
“I think that it’s really important that they get gifts and it’s kind of fun to wrap the presents,” said 10-year-old fourth-grade student Sophia Zarrillo of Blue Springs Girl Scout Troop 3091. “I haven’t wrapped presents before; this is the first time. It’s really exciting.”
“This is the first year we have involved the girl scouts,” added Home Instead of Lee’s Summit owner Michelle Brunell and leader of a third-grade Brownie Troop. “This is the 10th year we have done this (senior) program and every year it gets bigger; we are reaching out to more and more partners, but this is the first time we have actually gotten the girls involved.
“It just kind of came together. I think with them it’s all about service and thinking about somebody besides themselves during Christmas and realizing that there are quite a few folks who don’t have anyone to visit them.”
The entire process turned out very rewarding for all involved, Webb said.
“I’ve actively volunteered at different communities in the area and I know some of the people whose name has come in on that list and that makes me a little bit more emotionally tied to them,” she said. “I know that this will make a huge difference for them.”