News and Tribune

December 17, 2013

Serendipitous Santa: Seniors in Clarksville get early Christmas

Home Instead Senior Care joins with Walmart for gifts


CLARKSVILLE — Her face glowed as she saw what Santa brought this year — a set of Egyptian cotton bed sheets.

“I needed those because I haven’t had new sheets since the Egyptians were making their own,” Lynda Jones, 67, said.

Jones and other tenants at Yellowwood Terrace senior apartments in Clarksville got early Christmas gifts Tuesday from Home Instead Senior Care’s Be a Santa to a Senior program.

I’ieshia Gordon, client care manager for Home Instead, said local Walmart stores had trees with the names of seniors in their four facilities written on ornaments. Customers picked a name and bought gifts on their wish list.

Gordon said for Yellowwood Terrace alone, about 200 gifts were purchased for its residents.

“It’s almost hard to believe,” Gordon said. “Within our first week of participating, I had Walmarts telling me their bins for this were full. People say times are hard, but there’s still lots of generous people.”

Leslie Combs, social service coordinator for the apartments, said she loves seeing the reaction of the residents when they reach into their custom-decorated gift bags.

“For many of these residents, this is the only Christmas they have,” Combs said. “I think it’s great that people in the community see a name on a tree and help out.”

Paul Christian, 83, has lived in the complex for about three and a half years. He said this year was the first time he’s submitted a list.

Even though he only got one of his requests — a fleece-lined jacket — he said he was very happy with what he got.

“It’s very gratifying to be 83 and know the Christmas spirit is truly alive,” Christian said. “It’s astounding that people have so much to do at this time of year. For them to take the time to shop for seniors, it’s great to see humankind at its best.”

Jones said for the first time in years, she didn’t have the chance to give to a similar program, Angel Tree, which benefits children. But she said she’s happy to be on the other end of the line, too.

“It’s not giving back, it’s paying it ahead, paying it forward,” Jones said. “There are an awfully lot of nice people out there, if you just give them the chance. People from the Salvation Army don’t stand out in the cold because they look good in Santa suits. When you remind people that there’s a need, they’re usually willing to give.”