Published Thursday, December 21, 2023

Donations to the Senior Santa Adoption ensure each adopted senior will receive a Christmas gift and a nutritious, festive dinner delivered on Christmas Day by a dedicated volunteer. PHOTO/OSCEOLA COUNCIL ON AGING

As the holiday season approaches, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) is gearing up for our favorite time of the year – a season filled with joy, celebration, and our heartfelt Senior Santa Adoption program.

This initiative holds a special place in my heart because it serves as a vital outreach program for seniors in the Osceola community, addressing the loneliness often accompanying the holidays, especially for those living without family. According to recent AARP statistics, 1 in 4 seniors will spend the holidays without a loved one, with 1 in 10 experiencing extreme loneliness during this period.

The OCOA is proud to present a meaningful solution to combat holiday loneliness through the Senior Santa Adoption program. By adopting a senior, you have the power to make a substantial difference in the lives of local seniors by providing them with kindness, a personal connection, and invaluable community support. Each adopted senior will receive a Christmas gift, along with a nutritious, festive dinner, delivered on Christmas Day, by one of our dedicated Council volunteers.

One of those volunteers reflects on delivering meals.

“As the former Osceola County Sheriff, I’ve discovered that delivering Christmas dinners to isolated seniors is not just a duty; it’s an enriching experience,” said Russ Gibson (Sheriff from 2016-20). “Witnessing the joy and gratitude in the eyes of those who might otherwise spend the holidays alone is priceless. This service reminds us of the profound impact we can have on the lives of our community’s most vulnerable members.”

We invite members of the Osceola community to support this program in multiple ways, including a general donation to the holiday initiative or a gift of $30 to adopt a single senior. For those looking to make an even greater impact, consider becoming a HOPE sponsor to adopt four seniors or a JOY sponsor to support eight seniors.

Now in its 37th year, the Senior Santa Adoption program has consistently pursued its unwavering mission to ensure that no senior in our community spends the holiday season alone. Over the years, tens of thousands of Osceola seniors have been adopted, with community support reaching extraordinary levels. In past years, we have seen as many as 2,000 seniors adopted, while raising $35,000 during a single holiday season.

As we reflect on the blessings of the season, we hold steadfast to the belief that no one, especially our most vulnerable, senior population, should spend the holidays alone. Your participation and contribution go beyond material gifts; they create moments of joy, companionship, and nourishment— essential elements for the well-being of our seniors.

Join us in making a difference this holiday season. Whether through a donation or adopting a senior, your support will bring smiles to faces and warmth to hearts. To learn more, contact Tiffany Jeffers at 407-846-8532, ext. 1256, or jefferst@osceolacoa.com.

To donate directly to the Senior Santa Adoption Program, visit https:// donorbox.org/seniorsanta.

Together, let us make this holiday season a time of shared joy, heartfelt connections, with the spirit of giving. I wish you all a happy, safe, and joyous holiday season!