'Be a Santa to a Senior' hope to put smiles on senior's faces this holiday season

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. With the holidays around the corner, many of us will be celebrating with our loved ones, but seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often forgotten about.

The "Gifting Tree" inside Lighthouse Christian Books in Ashwaubenon

Home Instead Senior Care in Ashwaubenon is encouraging the community to help put a smile on a senior's face with the "Be a Santa to a Senior" program.

The “Gifting Tree” is inside Lighthouse Christian Books in Ashwaubenon, each paper ornament has a senior's Christmas wish list. Items on the list are simple, like books, puzzles and lotions.

"I was really sort of taken aback last week when someone was asking for bananas and peanut butter and crackers, pretty simple stuff," said Catherine Hougard, Home Care Consultant for Home Instead Senior Care.

"It's very hard to go especially through the holidays and not have anyone stop in to visit you or talk with you or even get a gift for Christmas and so when we heard about this program a number of years ago, I said bring in a tree, we'd love to," said Karen Grosse, Manager at Lighthouse Christian Books.

Hougard says the holidays can sometimes be a difficult and depressing time for seniors, often feeling lonely when they don't have visitors.

"We encourage families in the community to kind of adopt a senior for the holiday, how wonderful to bring someone into your home or to be able to take your children and visit someone in a nursing home or assisted living facility and let them know you care," said Hougard.

The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program provides more than 75 area seniors gifts for the holidays. This year Lighthouse Christian Bookstore in Ashwaubenon is the only business to host a “Gifting Tree.” Hougard says Home Instead Senior Care is hoping more businesses will step up next season so more seniors can have gifts for the holidays.

Every year Grosse says the tree runs out of ornaments, she hopes that will happen again this holiday season.

"We've had all of the ornaments taken each year and we want to make sure that happens again this year so I hope a lot of people will come in and take one and see how they can be a Santa to a senior," said Grosse.