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Employees of Home Instead Senior Care and U.S. Bank pose Monday, Dec. 17, by the “Be a Santa to a Senior” tree at the Tullahoma bank branch. The program provides gifts to low-income seniors who would not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas. This year, 60 seniors will receive gifts purchased by the community. Pictured from left are Summer Stout, Jen Jones, Sammie Baker, Tina LeGeune, Shellee Nunley, Jessie Schewe, Julia Bradley, Briana Florance, Lori Krauth and Fancy Kilgore.

Seniors in Tullahoma and Shelbyville will have a happier holiday and merrier Christmas thanks to the Home Instead Senior Care “Be a Santa to a Senior” program, which gives back to area seniors in need during the holiday season.

The program, now completing its eighth consecutive year, provides gifts to low income seniors who otherwise would not receive gifts for Christmas. The program works in a fashion similar to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program: Each senior’s gift requests are hung as an ornament on a holiday tree. Members of the community select an ornament, purchase the requested gifts and return the unwrapped, purchased items and ornament to a designated box for distribution to the seniors participating.

This year, U.S. Bank of Tullahoma provided a tree to the program, onto which the names of 60 seniors in need were added.  

“We have been doing this program for eight years, but something really unique happened this year,” said Jessie Schewe, Home Instead Senior Care administrator. “This year, our tags were taken and filled much faster than in years past. This year the program ran very smooth, and it was great seeing the tags filled so fast.”

Schewe said the seniors who were picked for the program were each chosen through an individual care center. These seniors are residents or patients of Life Care Center in Tullahoma and Glen Oaks Health and Rehabilitation of Shelbyville.

“This program is for low-income, lonely seniors to receive a Christmas gift,” said Schewe. “Through our program, they can get gifts and have a merry and happy Christmas.”

The seniors who were chosen for participation generally asked for essential living necessities, Schewe said. Materials like socks, hats, lotion, body wash and shampoo were just a few of the most commonly requested items.

“While many assisted living places provide body wash and essential care needs to seniors, it’s not fragranced or specialized in any way,” Schewe said. “Because these seniors have such low income and no family to help them, getting little things like fragranced lotion or body wash is a big deal to them.”

Only one program tree was placed in Tullahoma, but employees of the local U.S. Bank branch widely advertised the tree’s placement in the bank via social media, for which Schewe said Home Instead is grateful.

Though the program tags have been picked, Home Instead will still accept donations from those who wish to give back to the elderly this Christmas. Any type of senior care item will be accepted. These include items such as lotion, body wash, shampoo, socks, slippers, adult diapers, hats, blankets and robes.

If you wish to donate an item to a senior in need, you can drop off your item at the Home Instead Senior Care building, 101 W. Lincoln St., Suite 210.

For more information on Home Instead Senior Care, items needed or how to donate, call 931-454-2202 and ask for Jessie Schewe.

Faith Few can be reached via email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.