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“Santa Claus for Seniors” kicks off in Oshkosh

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 4:30 PM CST
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Organizers of a new holiday program in Oshkosh hope to spread some cheer to those feeling alone.

“We came up with Santa Claus for Seniors as a way to give back to the Oshkosh community,” said Lindsay Temple, Eden Senior Care Business Development Regional Director.

Home Care Assistance, Bella Vista, St. Croix Hospice and Edenbrook Oshkosh joined together to make gift baskets for isolated seniors in the community.

The baskets include blankets, coloring books, puzzles, and some personal care items among other things.

“This is just our way to say that we care about you, we’re here for you, and put a smile on their face,” said Temple.

“28 percent of seniors live alone, and obviously isolation can lead to other detrimental health effects whether it be physical or mental. So hopefully by doing this we can show there are people that care,” said Julie Maslowski, Bella Vista Independent and Assisted Living Sales and Marketing Director.

Rebecca Groleau is a Dementia Care Specialist with the Winnebago Co. Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). She says the effects of isolation have been apparent during the pandemic.

“Right now with this isolation and them not getting out to doing all these different programs that we have, I have definitely heard from a lot of caregivers that they’re seeing a huge decline in their loved ones. Even the physical decline, they’re not able to get up and move like they used to,” said Groleau.

The group will deliver to 25 seniors this year. The ADRC, free clinics, and even community members helped nominate recipients for Santa Claus for Seniors.

“Some of the people we have suggested may live alone, may not have any family members, may not get any interaction with anybody throughout the day. So having somebody drop by and drop them a special something I think will really lighten their day because they might not see anybody over the holidays,” said Groleau.

Ivan Craig was one of the first to be surprised with a gift basket. He says he dealt with a severe case of COVID-19 recently. That along with the isolation he faces made for a rough year.

“Usually all year long you just sit here, and at Christmastime magically somebody shows up,” said Craig.

Craig says the gift made his whole day.

“It’s just an unbelievable, unbelievable feeling that somebody would take the time to care for me,” said Craig.

Organizers hope to keep that feeling going for years to come.

“I think with COVID it’s important, but I think this is something that happens all the time, that we can definitely keep this project going,” said Temple.

“I can just see it growing, and there’s been a lot of excitement and a lot of people expressing they want to be a part of it, so I’m looking forward to what next year might bring,” said Maslowski.

Groleau adds that if anyone has questions about dementia or is in need of assistance they should contact their local ADRC.

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