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Operation Senior Christmas hopes to make holidays happy for older residents

While families are out enjoying the trappings of the holiday season, many of Rowan County’s oldest residents will be alone.
But organizers of Operation Senior Christmas want to make sure they’re not forgotten.
“We’re trying to reach out and help the seniors of Rowan County who may be isolated in their homes, financially challenged, no family, that sort of thing,” said Jodie Lewellyn, admissions and marketing director for Magnolia Gardens Extended Care in Spencer, which is spearheading the effort.
This year, Magnolia Gardens has taken over the program that used to be called Be a Santa to a Senior and hopes to reach nearly 1,300 senior citizens through partnerships with other nursing homes and Meals on Wheels of Rowan County.
It works like the Angel Tree program, with businesses hosting trees that bear tags with the names of senior citizens and their wished-for Christmas gift, Lewellyn said. To help, take a tag from any of those trees, buy the gift and return it to the business where you got the tag.
Lewellyn said organizers sent out of a list of suggested gifts from which seniors could choose, or they could ask for something not on the list. Most stuck to the suggestions, asking for things like blankets and gloves, while some asked for drug store gift cards, perfume and other items.
“One gentleman, he loves bulldogs, and he asked for a sweatshirt with a bulldog on it,” she said. “… No one asked for anything extravagant; they’re just really looking for basic needs.”
Operation Senior Christmas organizers ask people who buy gifts to wrap them, but if they don’t, that’s OK. Magnolia Gardens will host a wrapping part on Dec. 13.
“We’ve already got tons of wrapping paper, and we’re ready to get wrapping,” Lewellyn said.
The program will accept gifts through Dec. 20 and volunteers will start delivering them the weekend before Christmas.

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