As another Thanksgiving passes, people begin to focus their gazes toward Christmas, putting together wish lists, hanging lights, and planning big family gatherings.
While running around town making preparations and trying not to forget anything, it becomes easier to forget that not everyone will be spending Christmas with family or loved ones.
The Adopt a Senior program, organized by the Park Hills Senior Center staff, is a popular humanitarian event for seniors without family members around for the holidays.
Area families will adopt a senior for the season, agreeing to help make their holidays as bright as they are for everyone else, by purchasing small gifts and ensuring the seniors know that people around them care.
Senior Center Director Holly Buxton said the program was started eight years ago by volunteer Kim Dollar and her sons, Zack and Jake.
"They used to provide people along the Center's Meals on Wheels routes with little gift bags,” said Buxton. “They did it for five years and this is our, well the community’s, third year of doing it.”
Buxton said people from every surrounding town contact her each year as soon as she puts up the Facebook post announcing the start of the program's season.
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"There are many area seniors whose family is maybe away or perhaps they don't have any family,” Buxton said. “This is just a way for the community to spread some Christmas joy to our seniors.”
Buxton had initially announced that they had 46 seniors to adopt and provide Christmas for, but, with the abundance of willing participants, the list of seniors adopted for Christmas this year has already expanded to 109 and counting.
“Now, what we've done because so many people still want to do this," Buxton said, “we have a big Christmas party here on Dec. 20 and if they want to buy a gift for a senior, they can put a lady or a man on the gift, bring it in, and we will hand the gifts out at our Christmas party.”
She mentioned some good gift ideas might include blankets, socks, toiletry items, word search puzzles and other gifts of that nature.
“I basically tell people that anything I would have bought for my grandpa and grandma, my seniors would like,” she said. “And they can drop those gifts off at the senior center and even put a card with them if they would like.”
Buxton explained how excited the seniors get about the program each year and how after Christmas, the seniors will put together thank-you cards to the community.
It’s important to remember that some seniors may still go lonely, hungry, or cold this season as not every area senior will be able to participate.
Having a cup of coffee with someone or even just a simple conversation can have a huge impact on their mentality and view of the world around them.
One of the best gifts that someone without family around for the holidays can receive this year is a feeling that they're not alone.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com