RSVP of Enid is seeking public support for its fourth annual Santa for Seniors program, to help seniors in need during the holiday season.
While people are busy planning parties and holiday gift-giving, RSVP of Enid Executive Director Christy Baker said the Christmas season brings "real heartache" to many seniors in need.
"Isolation and loneliness do not discriminate based on who has or doesn't have money," Baker said. "When you are the one face-to-face with a 90-year-old couple who are living with a concrete floor under their feet, in thin socks, and just the love and support of one another, who split a McDonald's $1 hamburger to keep costs down, it's then you know there's so much we can do to bring the spirit of Christmas to their doorsteps and into their lives."
She said Santa for Seniors is designed to help bring joy to those seniors who are isolated and alone during the holidays — to bring "the true spirit of Christmas to those who feel alone or forgotten."
Over the last four years, more than 1,000 seniors have been "gifted with the true spirit of Christmas" through RSVP’s Santa for Seniors program and the partnerships and help of the community, according to an RSVP press release.
RSVP of Enid is reaching out to area agencies, nonprofits and businesses to identify those in need and those who don't get visitors.
"We want to help them during the holidays, to make sure they know they will always be a part of our family," Baker said.
For those willing to help, RSVP has several options.
RSVP is seeking donations of life-like baby dolls and robotic cats and dogs for seniors suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Baker said RSVP's Enid Mobile Meals drivers see firsthand the comfort a baby doll or lifelike dog or cat can bring to an Alzheimer's patient.
"We have learned and seen the impact of what a simple baby doll can do to help seniors on a day-to-day basis," Baker said. "The peacefully loving bliss that you see in their eyes when holding and caring for their doll is magical."
While seniors in nursing homes need items like lotions, pajamas and soaps, Baker said "we know that they will truly be blessed with a new forever friend."
"To bring joy that will bless them on a daily basis is something we hope you can help us with," she said.
RSVP of Enid is offering several sponsorship levels for local civic groups, businesses, churches and individuals to participate in Santa for Seniors.
Sponsorship levels are: Snowman Sponsor, $25-$199; Reindeer Sponsor, $200-$499; Elf Sponsor, $500-$999; Santa Sponsor, $1,000 and more. All sponsorships include listings on the RSVP website, with additional listings available as sponsorship levels increase.
Santa for Seniors provides needed items and gifts to seniors enrolled in the program each year.
Common items include lotions, pajamas, soaps, socks, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, house slippers and toiletry items. A full list of needed items is available at https://www.rsvpenid.org/santa-for-seniors.
Last year Santa for Seniors provided gifts for 250 seniors. This year, RSVP has doubled that goal, and hopes to provide gifts for 500 seniors in need.
RSVP is encouraging churches, civic groups and families to get youth involved in making handmade crafts and cards for the seniors.
Baker said receiving a handmade card or craft is the highlight of the gift package for a senior in need.
"Every senior will tell you this is their favorite part of their Christmas gift," Baker said. "Handmade items from the children is something they hold dear to their heart. You can make one card or 200 cards. Every card will be loved and adored forever."
Volunteers are needed to help deliver Christmas bags to seniors in need.
Christmas deliveries will be Dec. 20 at Oakwood Mall, by the west entrance, close to JC Penney's. Call RSVP of Enid at (580) 233-5914 to sign up.
Donated items can be dropped off at RSVP of Enid, 602 S. Van Buren, and St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 1924 W. Willow.
For more information on becoming a sponsor, making monetary donations or adopting a senior, call RSVP of Enid at (580) 233-5914 or visit their website at https://www.rsvpenid.org.