1,400 gifts for seniors ready to go under the Christmas tree

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hundreds of volunteers are working to put a smile on a senior’s face this holiday season.

UFS and AARP of Illinois teamed with Neighborhood House of Peoria to supply 1,400 gifts to give local seniors this Christmas.

“I think the holidays are really great, but I also think they can be really lonely,” said Hancock.

It is called the Neighborhood House Santa for Seniors, and more than 100 volunteers are preparing for the big delivery. Ciara Hancock said she is volunteering because she’s seen firsthand how acts like these can help seniors.

“I’m a registered nurse and I work with a lot of elderly people. I see a lot of people that don’t necessarily have people around [during] the holidays, and that’s always a little bit sad,” said Hancock.

“I think little things like… somebody thinking about them makes a big difference in their day,” said Hancock.

She said gifts aside, seniors have been very isolated during the pandemic and any act of kindness can leave the biggest impact.

“With COVID, it’s been a little bit harder to get involved with the elderly population. Obviously, they are most at risk, but I would just say the little things we can do… [like] just spending time with them, makes a difference… even if that’s just calling your own grandparents,” said Hancock.

The Community Impact Director Trevor Neff said each bag is filled with 6 to 7 small gifts.

“Through our Meals on Wheels program is how we get our first 800 people and then we reach out to nursing homes,” said Neff.

Gifts will be delivered on Dec. 5 and Neff said they will be needing more volunteers to help distribute the gifts.

He said those who would like to receive a gift this Christmas, can contact the Neighborhood House at (309) 674-1131.

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