Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Comfort and Joy: BASTAS gives back

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Noah Fox and Habil Young, right, work on bagging some gifts for senior citizens for the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

Another year, another project to help those who have given so much to the community.

Home Instead Senior Care Owner Maggie Lea once again orchestrated Be A Santa to A Senior. The annual mission identifies seniors who are in need and then places their names and wish lists at locations around the county. Shoppers can "adopt" a senior for the Christmas holiday.

Lea said this year they provided Christmas for 1,000 seniors in Wilson and other counties. "We partner throughout the year and reach out and see where the need is. Our service area is Old Hickory all the way to Cookeville," she explained.

The items that most senior citizens ask for are small and inexpensive - but mean the world to them. They request socks, notepads, scarves, sweaters and more.

"This year it was quite fun - we got a lot of requests for chocolate," said Lea, noting that she is a chocolate-lover too. "We also get requests for a lot of personal care items."

Seniors who live on a tight budget often have to forego everyday items in order to pay for necessities like medication.

"They need to buy their medication. They might not be able to afford denture cream or toothpaste - the everyday needs that most of us don't think twice about buying," Lea said.

Lea hosted the Be A Santa to A Senior "Wrap Party" at College Hills Church of Christ on Tuesday morning. Friendship Christian School's third- and fourth-graders helped wrap the gifts before they were distributed.

"Before we started wrapping, we asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Most of them said Apple Watches. It hit home with them that there is a real need in the community," she said. "They found it very humbling that they filled a part of the puzzle to help our seniors have a Christmas."

Lea added that some kids who participated in wrapping the last eight years are now in high school and beyond. "They are still giving back to the program."

During delivery, volunteers spent at least 30 minutes with seniors to provide companionship.

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