The Waxahachie Senior Center is providing the public with another opportunity to help a senior in need this holiday season.

In it’s fifth year, the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program helps to spread joy by allowing others to give a gift to a senior who might not receive one.

“We are excited to be able to start our campaign for ‘Be a Santa to a Senior.’ This program is a way for caring for people, to express Christmas cheer and good will to our older adults in Ellis County and the surrounding area,” center director Jeanee Smiles said. “We have so many seniors in these surrounding communities that are homebound or shut-ins. Some don’t have families. The people they do see are home healthcare aids that come in and do a wellness check on them and Meals-on-Wheels.”

When the program started four years ago, 350 gifts were given out in the first year, Smiles said. Each year angels are placed on a tree for community members to choose from. This year, the center has about 1,000 angels. The seniors that the center is aiding are not only Meals-on-Wheels clients and residents of assisted living facilities across the county, but also senior citizens members who may not have a loved one visiting for the holidays.

The angel tree will be in lobby of the senior center, with a list on each angel of suggested items a person can purchase for the senior. It is recommended that shoppers spend no more than $10.

One of the items to avoid purchasing when acting as a Santa for a senior is food, Smiles said. The reason being the Santa won’t know if a senior is diabetic, has food allergies or if the food will interfere with a senior’s medication. Also, people should avoid purchasing robes or slippers because they won’t know the recipient’s size, she said. Those who don’t have time to go out and make a purchase can come by the center and make a donation to the program.

The angels will be available through Dec. 15 and center officials will host a gift-wrapping party on Dec. 18. Volunteers are needed for the gift-wrapping party, along with boxes, wrapping paper and tape. Volunteers will then deliver the gifts on Dec. 22.

“The greatest gift is that you can come and help us deliver these items. We have different routes from different areas. Usually one person might take six to eight gifts. It takes about an hour, to an hour and half, depending on your route to deliver these gifts,” Smiles said. “They are all familiar to the ‘Be a Santa with a Senior’ program. They open the door eagerly and want us to stay and open the presents with them. It is really a nice way to give back to the members of the community that are less seen and more often forgotten. “

Every senior on the tree is going to be taken care of, Smiles said. Last year the center had a surplus of gifts and was able to leave gifts for doctors, nurses and patients at Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie.

“We just have a wonderful community and this is just a great way for people to be apart of the giving program,” Smiles said. “Anybody of any age is more than welcome to help us come deliver, wrapping or get and angel off the tree. It takes a team to accomplish this task.”

For more information about the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ project, contact Smiles at 469-309-4280. Smiles can be reached by email at jsmiles@waxahachie.com. The center is open from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and is located at 122 Park Hills Dr. in Waxahachie.