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Be a Santa to a Senior

Jill Corbin, spokesperson for Home Instead, holds up a sign for the "Be a Santa to a Senior Program" at a recent Professional Women's Network luncheon. Signs like this are placed on top of giving trees in store locations around the area. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger/ Duluth Budgeteer)

Looking for a way to spread holiday cheer? There is still time to participate in Home Instead's "Be a Santa to a Senior" holiday program.

The program started in mid-November and will continue to collect gifts for seniors throughout the Northland through Dec. 18.

"It's not income-based," said Jill Corbin, spokesperson for Home Instead. "We reach out to any senior in the area who is lonely or isolated." Home Instead provides non-medical care for seniors at their homes.

Here's how the program works:

Home Instead works with several partners such as nursing homes and health centers to create a list of seniors' gift requests. Corbin said the gift requests can vary from simple household items such as batteries to more specific gifts such as a purple Viking's hat.

"We get requests for everything, from soft, cozy blankets to candles to a warm sweater," said Corbin.

Next, the senior's first name and requested gift is then written on a purple Home Instead ornament and placed on a Christmas tree in one of the supporting store locations. These locations include several Walgreens and Menards stores as well as Lake Superior Medical Equipment, Edgewood Vista, and Vision Pro Optical.

A complete list of locations is available on the program's website at Simply enter your zip code into the search bar and find the closest giving tree location.

To participate, simply pick up an ornament, purchase the requested gift and return the gift and the tag to the store where the ornament was picked up.

"There's no need to wrap the present," said Corbin. "We'll take care of that."

But if wrapping is your favorite part of gift buying, fear not -- everyone is invited to join the wrapping parties at Viewcrest Health Center, 3111 Church Place, on Dec. 12 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. or at the Home Instead office, 315 E. Central Entrance, on Dec. 18 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

"We are collecting donations for wrapping supplies as well," said Corbin.

According to Corbin, the program gives out 600 presents throughout the Northland every year. It takes a lot of wrapping paper to wrap that many presents.

Corbin said they have a couple of local Girl Scout Troops who have volunteered to make cards to go along with all the gifts.

After all the gifts are wrapped, they are given out to the seniors by volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer to collect presents or deliver gifts call Home Instead's Duluth office at 866-427-8810.

More information

Who: Home Instead

What: Home Instead's "Be a Santa to a Senior" program

Where: Visit www. to find out.

Gift-wrapping parties

When: Thursday, Dec. 12, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Where: Viewcrest Health Center, 3111 Church Place

When: Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Home Instead office, 315 East Central Entrance

When: Through Dec. 18