By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY --
Help bring a smile to the faces of area seniors this year with East Florida Eye Institute's Secret Santa for Seniors Program.
For the third year they're asking the community to donate simple gifts that they will deliver to seniors in the Council on Aging's day program at the Kane center.
While talking to an elderly patient a few years ago, Ronald Frenkel learned that every year there are seniors with little to no family who don't receive gifts or Christmas cards from anyone. They miss out on experiencing the childlike joy of unwrapping presents each year and the employees at the Eye Institute want to remedy that.
Starting Dec. 2, there will be a Christmas tree in the lobby of the office decorated with 130 stars that bear the names and wish lists of seniors. The lists include items like tote bags, towels, socks, blankets and puzzles and residents are invited to come in, pick out a star, and go shopping.
Once the secret Santas have wrapped their purchases and placed them back under the tree at the office, employees, including Dr. Frenkel, will deliver the packages to the Kane center to be distributed to grateful seniors.
"We don't want them to be left out. We want them to share in the joy of the season as well," said Michelle Cates at the East Florida Eye Institute.
"There are lots of people here who just need to feel appreciated and remembered and loved during the holidays," said Crystal Edmunds, the Adult Day Healthcare Program Manager at the Kane Center.
The first year they provided seven seniors with lovingly-wrapped gifts and last year they had three carloads of presents for 70 individuals, so this year they set their sights high in hopes of warming the hearts of 130 people.
"The outpouring from the community was overwhelming," Ms. Cates said of the amount of items they received last year. "This year we want to make sure that everyone on that list receives a present."
"We feel so blessed that they have a heart for seniors in Martin County," said Ms. Edmunds. She said watching the excitement on the seniors faces last year when the realized they hadn't been forgotten during the holidays was heartwarming.
The Eye Institute is kicking off the program with a party on Dec. 2 between noon and 1 p.m. that the public is invited to attend. There will be light refreshments and the opportunity to pick a star from the tree, ask questions, and bring in donations like toiletries and sweaters.
The office is located at 509 Riverside Dr., Ste. 302, Stuart.
Ms. Cates said it's a great way for individuals, families and even groups and organizations to come together in the spirit of giving to provide something wonderful for an individual in need.