Families not getting to see their older loved ones because of restrictions during the pandemic has been one of the most heartbreaking effects of what we're going through, and that hurt must grow exponentially as we arrive at the holidays.

Mine are sadly not with us anymore, but if they were, I couldn't imagine how difficult it would have been to not be allowed to see my grandparents amid the recommendations not to travel thanks to the pandemic. They always went out of their way to help make Christmas special when we had a chance to visit them or have them visit us.

That's the great thing about the annual "Be a Santa to a Senior" program that is now in its 15th year in Cedar Rapids. The loneliness and isolation being felt by seniors in the community can be replaced with joy and happiness with donated gifts they receive through the program.

Several participating drop-off locations allow donations of gifts to those seniors in need this holiday season. Karen Huber owns the Cedar Rapids Home Instead Senior Care office, who spearheads the donation drive. She told KWWL, "seniors are especially at risk for the feelings of isolation that we’ve all felt at some point during the pandemic, and a simple gift can show them that they have been thought of, which is more important this year than ever".

Look for a special "Be A Santa to a Senior" decorated tree at any of the locations listed below, now through Friday, December 11. They will feature ornaments with the names of seniors you can purchase and donate an unwrapped gift to, and return it back to that same spot, where the rest will be taken care of by the program organizers. Spread the joy by grabbing a name at any of the following locations.

  • Hy-Vee 4035 Mt Vernon Rd SE Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee 5050 Edgewood Rd NE Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee 1843 Johnson Ave NW Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee 20 Wilson Ave SW Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee 3600 US-151 Marion
  • Hy-Vee Drug Store 2001 Blairs Ferry Rd NE Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee Drug Store 505 Boyson Rd NE Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee Drugstore 4825 Johnson Ave NW Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee Drugstore 1520 6th St SW Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee Lindale Mall 379 Collins Road NE Cedar Rapids
  • Hy-Vee Oakland Road 3235 Oakland Rd NE Cedar Rapids
  • Linn County Offices 935 2nd St Sw Cedar Rapids

You can visit this website to learn more.

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