“Be Santa to a Senior”

The holidays are fast approaching, and our community is preparing to spread cheer and goodwill to mark the season. Some in Georgetown may be missing the gift trees that used to be in place at local Walmart stores, covered with gift tags for local seniors. 

The Georgetown View sat down with Lacey and Tyson Murphy, local Home Instead franchise owners who deserve credit for those trees and the attendant good-neighbor gift-giving. They have great new plans for helping the entire community join in on the sharing and continuing to celebrate Georgetown’s generosity. 

Lacey and Tyson have been part of the Home Instead network of local caregivers for more than ten years. Every year, in addition to the quality care they offer year-round for seniors, they also participate in Home Instead’s seasonal Be Santa to a Senior. This program helps those in need by giving gifts to seniors in nursing homes who might not otherwise receive any. 

Due to health concerns, the trees are not available this year but everyone is invited and encouraged to join in the fun online. The 2021 process is very simple and, fortunately, is not limited to those who shop at Walmart. Lacey says, “People really liked the tree tags because it was so clear that the gifts were purchased and given locally. But I am also very excited that, with Amazon’s help, everyone can shop for a stranger, on their device, from anywhere. And the gifts are still wrapped and delivered locally.” 

MAKE YOUR LIST 

To participate, scan the code on the facing page and enter a local zip code. Seniors’ first names and last initials will appear, and each has a wish list from which you can choose their items and preferred sizes and colors.  

The names that appear on the website are individuals who live in or visit care facilities in Georgetown, Round Rock, and North Austin. Lacey says, “Our clients live in their own homes but, at the holidays, we receive names from resident facilities and activity directors in our area of others who wish to receive gifts. Seniors usually ask for things like sweats, slippers, pajamas, a calendar, a large-print novel…nothing really big.” 

The Wish Lists are courtesy of the agency’s partnership with Amazon. Every senior was invited to create a personalized gift list, providing easy resources for everyone in the community to give back in a fun way. This year, she hopes to provide gifts to more than 200 seniors in our community. 

Participating agencies include: 

  • Trinity Care Center
  • Riverside Nursing  Center
  • AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Centers

MAKE IT COMMUNITY

Buying the gifts isn’t the end of the journey to celebrate the holidays with these seniors. Once the packages are received at Home Instead, partners there reach out to students at Jarrell Elementary School who color special paper and bags to wrap the gifts. All the little elves get together with staff for

a wrapping party worthy of Santa’s workshop to prepare the gifts. The wrapped, personalized packages are then given over to capable hands who pass them out to the nursing homes and activity centers.

“We love doing it every year,” Lacey says. “We are short-staffed this year so we made a tough decision to scale back but, even last year in a pandemic, we distributed a bar-raising 1,200 gifts.” She is extremely proud to report numbers like these are what strengthen her belief in the passion the Georgetown community shows to help people in need. 

MAKE IT YOURS

This program is national in scope so any zip code will allow you to help a senior in your home town, or share the website with long-distance relatives who would like to help someone in Georgetown. “With just a few minutes, from anywhere, you can bless someone in your community,” Lacey says.

She believes the need to stay local is just as important to this organization as it is to everyone. “Many of [the seniors] grew up in this area, and we understand that these really are local people living in these facilities. It doesn’t matter where they live now, they’re likely to be from within a 20-mile radius,” Lacey says. 

No matter where you are, or what your holiday plans are, it is never a wrong time to give back to your community. Lacey adds, “If everybody in the community is going to celebrate, it takes us all to give, and spread joy a little further than normal this year.”

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