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December 06, 2012 05:02 PM

Program Benefiting Seniors In Need Of Help

Sioux Falls, SD

Many lonely senior citizens will not get a present under the tree this Christmas without last-minute help.

The "Be a Santa to a Senior" program has days before gifts are delivered and they've only received half of what the recipients need.

At Active Generations, seniors concentrate on making Christmas gifts for their families. But Director of Adult Daybreak Services Molly Keegan said nearly 40 seniors at the center won't be getting a present at all this year.

"A lot of them are going to be in their 80s or 90s. A lot of them don't have as much family with them anymore. They don't have friends around that they used to. Those organized holiday traditions aren't what they used to be," Keegan said.

Active Generations is one of 14 organizations benefiting from the "Be a Santa to a Senior" program by Home Instead Senior Care. Jim Valder organized the program for the fourth year.

"At Christmas, a lot of times we focus on kids, which is great," Valder said. "But sometimes the seniors are forgotten a little bit."

Trees set up at seven Lewis Drug stores in Sioux Falls and Brandon hold ornaments with the wish list of a needy senior. But this year, the program is in big trouble and time is running out.

"I'm a little bit nervous, yes," Valder said.

As of this week, only half of the seniors are getting gifts this year.

With less than six days before the deadline, nearly 500 ornaments still hang on the trees. Keegan says the seniors aren't asking for much. 

"Things even as simple as word searches, pens, stationary," Keegan said. "It's amazing and it really puts things into perspective when you look at this time of year."

"All this is about is just to make sure they get at least one gift from somebody who cares about them," Valder said.

The deadline to return the senior gifts is next Wednesday. The tags are usually all gone by Thanksgiving.

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