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Be a Santa to a senior

Companies donate to the home-bound elderly in the SCV

Posted: December 25, 2008 4:12 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2008 4:55 a.m.

"They're obviously a big part of society, they've raised children, a lot of them are veterans, they're our grandparents and our parents," said Jorge Meza of Valencia. "We always remember the children and we never remember the elderly."

Those comments reflect the motivation behind the generous donations delivered to dozens of home-bound elderly on Christmas Eve, which were collected through the "Be a Santa to a Senior" program.

Jorge and Theresa Meza of HBW Insurance and Financial Services, which partners with real estate company, Century 21 Palmieri in Newhall requested that company employees donate to seniors for the holidays this year.

"We have a holiday Christmas party and we always ask (employees who are) coming to please bring a present for a needy child," she said.

"But this time our focus was on the seniors. (A friend and I) actually went and visited Home Instead and were so moved by the things we learned ... While there, (Home Instead workers) told a lot of things (the elderly) ask for that are just bare necessities - robes or something to keep them warm, and it just touched our hearts," Meza said.

Home Instead Senior Care is the largest nonmedical home-care provider in the world that hires experienced, professional care givers who are sent out to homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes to provide one-on-one care to seniors, said Charlene Perrone, co-owner of the care's Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley branches.

Home Instead worked with the SCV Senior Center and SCV Food Pantry to receive names of local home-bound elderly.

"We ask retailers to place trees in their stores and there are ornaments on the trees of seniors who have been provided to us," Perrone said.

These are low-income seniors, seniors in need, a lot of whom have no families. They do not have a lot of hope of seeing a gift or even a face other than Meals on Wheels, she said.

The Mezas and others with HBW and Century 21 took up the opportunity.

"Some people donated two and three gifts. We found this especially warming, since people are saying they just can't give and people are losing their jobs," Theresa Meza said.

Supportive Services director of The Santa Clarita Senior Center said enough items were collected to fulfill all their requests - two carloads of those items came from HBW and Century 21.

"This is the third year Home Instead has done this and during a time of the year where people put all their focus on children. The seniors are the forgotten people, so it's nice that people do acknowledge them," said SuzAnn Nelsen, supportive services director of The Santa Clarita Senior Center. "Some of the people don't see family, they have no family, so this will be the only bright spot in their Christmas. It was very generous of Home Instead to put this together."


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