Foster a Senior served 75 seniors in its first year, a little over 100 in its second, and 200 in its third. As of last year, it had grown to include 305 recipients, and she’s hoping to add more in 2021.
It’s that time of year again, when the second floor of the Bristol Senior Center becomes a gift-packed staging area for the large-and-growing “Foster a Senior” program.
It’s all happening under the watchful eye of Donna Wilson, the Center's assistant director. Wilson, whose infectious laugh and enthusiasm are well-known to seniors who frequent the center’s daily lunches and events, conceived of the program six years ago. Foster a Senior served 75 seniors in its first year, a little over 100 in its second, and 200 in its third. As of last year, it had grown to include 305 recipients, and she’s hoping to add more in 2021.
Recipients are seniors in need as well as seniors who are alone for the holidays. Ms. Wilson gets names from housing, churches, friends and family, to help identify those who belong on her ever-growing list.
Prior to 2020, Wilson made every delivery herself, dressed as Santa, and accompanied by a crew of children dressed as elves. Last year, pre-vaccine, the process was sadly simplified to contactless drop off.
We brought back the “ding dong ditch,” said Wilson.
Simple things like robes, blankets, gloves and hats, toiletries, and gift cards for food, pharmacies, and gas are most welcome. Donations can be wrapped or unwrapped (though labeled if wrapped); gift cards are best in $20-$25 denominations.
Wilson emphasizes that this is not a need-based effort — the goal is to make all seniors know that they are remembered at Christmas, with a visit with the elves and a big hug from Santa. While she hopes to someday be able to being back the hugs and unmask the elves, it won’t be this year. But hugs or no hugs, Wilson will be delivering the love and kindness this season, right on schedule.
Want to help?
Please drop off any gifts or donations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. between now and Dec. 10; Bristol Senior Center, 1020 Hope Street. For more information, call 401-253-8458 or visit Bristolsrctr.com.