Holiday program helps local seniors struggling with poverty and loneliness

RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Southwest Riverside County’s Be a Santa to a Senior campaign – a program that in eight years delivered 5,000 gifts to local needy seniors – is being planned again this holiday season as older adults continue to face poverty and loneliness.

The area office of the Home Instead Senior Care network, the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults, is joining Menifee Hospital, Walmart and Kmart to provide gifts to seniors who otherwise might not receive either.

“Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year,” said Paul Dziuban, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving seniors in Southwest Riverside County. “The donated gifts, such as food items and blankets, really help out those seniors in need, especially in today’s economy where the gift recipients are seeking the simple, bare necessities in order to live day-to-day.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nine percent of U.S. seniors 65 and older are living in poverty and 27 percent are widowed.

Here’s how to help these struggling seniors: Pick up ornaments with the first names of seniors and their gift requests listed on the ornaments from Christmas trees, which will be up at Walmarts at

• 32225 Temecula Parkway in Temecula;

• 41200 Murrieta Hot Springs Road in Murrieta;

• 31700 Grape Street in Lake Elsinore;

• Kmart at 26471 Ynez in Temecula;

• and at Menifee Hospital, 28400 McCall, in Sun City.

The event will begin on Nov. 12 and run through Dec. 9. Buy items on the list and return them unwrapped to the store, along with the ornaments attached.

A community gift-wrapping event, when hundreds of the presents will be wrapped with the help of local senior citizens and area senior assistance providers, will be held at the Murrieta Senior Center on Monday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“While so many programs are geared toward children this time of the year, needy seniors are often a forgotten segment of the population during the holiday season. Plus, helping a needy older adult can bring fulfillment to the giver as well as the receiver – it does make a difference,” Dziuban said.

Jodie Thunderburk with the Chateau at Harveston recently thanked Home Instead for the Be a Santa to a Senior Program, noting that, “Every year at Christmas, you fulfill seniors’ Christmas wishes and bring a smile to their faces. We have a Christmas party every year for our residents, and we see the joy on their faces when we tell them that Santa’s helpers at Home Instead dropped by to give them some gifts. Home Instead is an example of consistent dedication to seniors.”

Olga Enciso with Life Care Center of Menifee added, “The Be a Santa to a Senior Program has made a difference at our facility. It has provided a special gift to those patients who don’t have family. It’s brought many tears and joyful smiles to our faces. Our patients are very grateful to know that someone in the community cares for them.”

For more information about the program, visit or call (951) 696-2100.

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