METAIRIE, La. — With each present unwrapped at Colonial Oaks Living Center in Metairie Wednesday, smiles mean so much more than gifts.
“I got pajamas and I got slippers,” said resident Gail Turley. “It’s very nice.”
For Turley, there’s also a lot of gratitude for the holiday joy, brought to her and fellow residents.
“Very grateful,” said Turley. “It’s really, really, really nice.”
All those gifts are thanks to folks around the New Orleans area who took part in the yearly "Be a Santa to a Senior" program put on by Home Instead, a senior care company.
“It's wonderful,” said resident Olivia Lacospe. “I didn’t expect this.”
Organizers say loneliness and isolation are common in older adults, especially around the holiday. Because of the program about 1,500 seniors, many with no family, get some childhood excitement.
“Just knowing people are thinking about them, it means the world to them. Strangers are literally buying gifts for them,” said Scarlet Plocher with Home Instead.
Those gifts come with a bigger bow this year since a COVID19 grinch shut down celebrations last year.
“That was so dreary,” said Turley.
Thankfully, the music and laugher are back. With gifts finding their way into the hands of seniors, faces are again lighting up.
“The faces are what makes it all worthwhile, their reactions, their thank yous,” said Senior Director of Care Management at East Jefferson General Hospital David Broussard.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Dorothy Dickens.
A wonderful feeling that comes with a message to all those elves who helped make it happen.
“God bless them and thanks for everything,” said resident Olivia Lacospe.