NEWBERRY — The holiday season can be one of the happiest times of the year, but for many senior citizens, it can also be a lonely time.
For the third year, the Living Water Foundation and Newberry High School seniors teamed up Monday to make sure the season is merry and bright for elderly members of the community.
The Secret Santa for Seniors project is uniquely designed to focus on financially challenged or isolated seniors.
“Most high school students never realize there are literally hundreds of seniors in their own community who do have not family and are alone,” said Candice Dixon, Newberry High School guidance counselor. “By connecting the two generations of seniors, this project not only provides a rich experience for the students but also gives them an opportunity to share the Christmas spirit in a deep and meaningful way.”
The project works by confidentially accepting referrals from local non-profits, healthcare providers, service organizations, and churches, according to Renee’ Martin, executive director of the living water foundation.
The project kicked off Nov. 25 and will run through Dec. 18. Newberry High School seniors took turns placing ornaments on a tree Monday inside the Wendy’s located at 2900 Main St. in Newberry. The ornaments feature first names of the senior citizens, and a suggested gift item.
Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, purchase the suggested gift, and return it unwrapped to the store. Generic donations of socks, slippers, blankets and canned goods will also be accepted, Martin said.
Senior Lexie Kesler is delighted to be involved in the Secret Santa project.
“It gives back to senior citizens and is a great way to spread holiday cheer,” Kesler said.
NHS seniors were chosen by their guidance counselor to participate in the project, but other seniors could also volunteer to help out. Ericka Jones is another student chosen for the project.
“I’m honored that I was chosen to participate and help out the senior citizens of Newberry,” Jones said. “I would love to see them smile. That’s all I want for Christmas.”
Those wishing to help out a local senior citizen this holiday season should have the unwrapped gifts to the Wendy’s drop off location, no later than December 18. Secret Santa for Seniors volunteers will collect, wrap, and deliver the gifts by December 20 with the help of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.
“Newberry is such a generous community so it’s not surprising to see this generosity being passed on to our younger generation,” said Mayor Foster Senn. “I can’t think of a better way for our students, residents and businesses to help brighten the holidays and show our gratitude to those who have contributed so much to our community.”
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.