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Bedford generosity makes Christmas brighter for some

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By John Barnhart

Brenda Dixon doesn't look anything like Santa Claus. She wasn't making her rounds in a reindeer powered sleigh, either.

The young woman works for Home Instead Senior Care and delivered gifts last week to folks in the Bedford. The gifts were purchased under the Be a Santa to a Senior Program that Home Instead has sponsored for the three years.

It was Bedford area generosity that made this possible. Home Instead provided the names of people, along with the gifts these folks would like for Christmas. Local people adopted one by purchasing the desired gifts.

The idea behind the program is that some elderly people are facing a Christmas that won't be very merry because they are in tight financial circumstances and have no family. All have been vetted by social services adult protective services so that Home Instead knows that they are over 60 and need help.

"They've been wonderful getting presents for residents," commented Betty Mahanes, the administrator at Carriage Hill, on the community's response.

Carriage Hill accepts residents under Medicaid and these are the folks to whom Home Instead brought gifts

"The community did it," commented Dixon.

Dixon said that one person in Bedford asked for gift cards, one for Vista and one for Wal Mart. The Vista card was for food and the Wal Mart card was for prescriptions. They were able to give that person the requested cards, each loaded with $100.

According to information provided by Dixon, the Be a Santa to a Senior Program is a nationwide initiative that Home Instead developed to help elderly people who are both financially challenged and isolated. These are people who would otherwise be left out. Most gifts are delivered by volunteers but employees like Dixon, who works as a community services representative, do it too.

The wish lists are primarily needs based. They ask for blankets, slippers, postage stamps and toiletries. Some ask for gift cards to help pay the cost of prescriptions.

This year, the Lynchburg office delivered gifts to 600 people in Amherst County, the Bedford area, Campbell County and Lynchburg. The Bedford community sponsored more than 200 of these, including 160 living in the Bedford area. The last of the deliveries were completed the Friday before Christmas.

For more information on Be a Santa to a Senior, go to www.santatoasenior.com.

Home Instead Senior Care provides non-medical personal care and companionship. Services include meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, errands and transportation.