Santas For Seniors (YOU can help!)

There are many wonderful causes the whole year through, but so many come closer to home around Christmas time. With an abundance of charities that do amazing work and provide much needed services to those who need them, there is never a shortage of ways and areas in which we can make a difference.

Each of us has certain things laid upon our hearts and I feel strongly that they are laid upon our hearts for a reason. If we follow our hearts and give where we are led to give, we can make a huge difference. Due to my upbringing, my abundance of wonderful grandparents, and my experience in Nursing Homes, I feel led to think of our elderly around Christmas time and have noticed a deficit in this area.

Senior Citizens are one of our greatest treasures! This is why I started adopting a nursing home a few years back and I’m hoping to branch out this year and adopt more than one nursing home, with a lofty goal of eventually being able to adopt every one in my area, making sure each resident has a wrapped gift on Christmas.

Here is how I do it followed by how you can help me:

 

How I adopt Nursing Homes

1. I contact a nursing home, ask to speak to the activities director, and let them know what I’d like to do.

2. Find out how many residents are in the home to make sure I have a gift for each and every one.

3. Buy Suave Body Wash – Start buying early because the stores need time to restock. Sometimes I have to go to several Wal Marts to get enough. Note: It generally costs me around $3.00 per person but that includes the body wash, wrapping, and cards if I include them. 

4. Wrap each body wash individually in Christmas paper.

5. Deliver the body wash to the nursing home in time for Christmas(My favorite time is Christmas Eve) and leave it with the activities director (see notes as to why I leave it rather than pass it out)

 

Notes and further explanation:

 

Contacting the Nursing Home

 

It is very important to choose a nursing home ahead of time and contact the Activities Director. Let them know what you plan on doing and make sure it is welcome there (I’ve always had wonderful reception to the idea). Then, find out what the maximum capacity of their home is and how many patients they currently have. You want to make sure you have enough body wash to provide one to every single resident and if they are ten or so under capacity, go ahead and buy for the full capacity as they may have more residents by the time you deliver the gifts.  If the nursing home has a great many residents and you are afraid you may not be able to afford to buy for each one, see if you have friends who would like to help.

 

Why I buy Suave Body Wash

There are so many different things nursing home residents can’t have for various reasons. So I called up a few nursing homes a couple of years back and spoke with the directors and found that body wash was a universal need and every resident needed it. Not only that, at the time the directors told me it was also something they always needed. I chose Suave because it is generally affordable, easy to find, and having all of the bottles be a uniform size really helps when you’re wrapping two or three hundred of them. I usually wait until my Mother in Law comes to visit for Christmas and then she and I wrap them together. One person can cut rectangles of wrapping paper while the other puts them around the bottle and tapes it closed. Doing this with a group of people is a great idea!

Note: Bottles of body wash are bad about opening up on ya, especially when you buy a hundred or so at a time. As you put them in your buggy, I recommend pushing down hard on each and every cap and if you are going to be transporting them more than once, you might want to place a single piece of tape over it to help the cap stay closed. 

If anyone from Suave reads this, please feel free to send me a few cases (or a truck load) of body wash and I’ll be happy to wrap it up and adopt more nursing homes!

Is wrapping every one of them necessary?

 

For me, this is one of the absolute most important steps. Remember the wonder of receiving a gift wrapped in pretty Christmas paper and wondering what it is? I want every resident of the nursing homes I adopt to have at least one wrapped Christmas gift. 

 

Dropping off Gifts versus Handing Them Out

 

This is another important step. When I was a teenager I used to volunteer in a nursing home. I’d go visit, talk with the residents, and just spend time with them. When Christmas rolled around I would have loved to have been able to give a gift to each one of them but at the time there just wasn’t any way I could afford to.

As I went to delver my gifts the first Christmas I adopted a nursing home, I had planned on handing them out myself. Upon walking in and seeing the sweet nurses and staff with their patients it just didn’t feel right for me, a stranger, to have the joy of giving a gift to these people that the staff cares for and loves every other day of the year. That is when I decided to double the gift, and let someone else have the joy of giving it. In doing this we are also taking away the “glory” of being thanked because we don’t do it for that purpose. We do it out of love for the people who need to be loved. Period. As far as I know, the nursing home I’ve adopted the past few Christmases still has no idea who is responsible for the gifts. They see me each year as I come in and hand off the gifts but I’ve never given my name.

 

Why this cause? 

 

I believe we all have certain things laid on our hearts and this is something that has been laid on mine. You may feel led to support another cause or section of our little world and that is wonderful. If we each follow the cause that has been laid upon us, imagine the difference we could make!

 

*** I’d LOVE Your Help! *** 

 

What Groups Can Participate? 

ANYONE can participate. Even one bottle helps!

This project is also great for:

  • School Groups
  • College Clubs
  • Sewing Groups
  • Quilting and Sewing Guilds of all kinds
  • Scrapbooking Groups
  • Mom’s Groups
  • Prayer or Church Groups
  • Any other group, no matter how big or small

To participate if you are in the North Alabama area, simply gather your bottles of body wash together and drop them off at one of the drop off points below. Be sure you contact the locations ahead of time to make sure you’re coming during their business hours.

 

Where can I drop off my bottles to help? 

  • Christy Jordan’s Holiday Cooking Show in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – If you are attending my Holiday Cooking Show in Muscle Shoals on November 10th, please visit the Southern Plate table to drop off your bottles of body wash - and make sure you come up on stage after the show so I can personally thank you and hug your neck! 
  • Terra Bacio SalonSpa in Huntsville, Alabama is also serving as a drop off point. They are owned but the great folks who own Dan Tera and we so appreciate their support! Click here to visit their Facebook Page. 

 

 

If you own a business and would like to be added to our drop off list, please let me know by emailing santa@southernplate.com 

One of the best ways to have yourself a Merry Little Christmas is to make someone else’s a little brighter!

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

~Uta Hagen

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Comments

  1. kay overman says

    This is such a wonderful thing you do. I worked in a nursing home for years and the last few years my in-laws have been in a nursing home during the holidays for rehab. Most people forget about the elderly when they are out of sight. So many of the elderly don’t have family to visit or make the holidays enjoyable for them. You will be greatly blessed for this. I tried to make your Mix in the pan crust and it didn’t work what did I do wrong? I had to add more flour to get it thick enough to pres out into the pan and I didn’t even use all the oil or the milk it’s in the oven now. So we will see how it taste. But I don’t think it was suppose to be running.

  2. Diane C says

    Way to go Christy… Having worked in a Senior Living community, the Suave body wash is such a wonderful gift to give to the seniors. So many won’t spend that kind of money on themselves and many can’t get out either. I think the “Secret Santa” is such a cute idea. We have school children adopting our residents as well with little fruit baskets and we would pass them out on Christmas eve. You should have seen their faces light up. It was so precious to see how excited they got about apples and bananas…. You are an Angel!!

  3. Furbee says

    It’s wonderful to remember our seniors especially at the holidays! If anyone wants to do the “body wash thing” at their local nursing home, please call them first to ask what they need or consider unscented items. My sister works in a nursing home and my friend volunteers at another one. At those places giving the seniors anything scented is strongly discouraged as many seniors are allergic to scent or the soap itself, or their caregivers may have a problem. Having the staff distribute any items goes a long way to being sure no one has any problems with it.

    Many nursing homes have church or volunteer groups that provide specific (and approved) gifts for the seniors and they would love financial help or even help with wrapping the gifts at the holidays. Also, I hear about many seniors who get just one greeting card at their birthday, and that is from the staff. This is another area where people can help.

    My Gram is in a nursing home(she’s 96) and when I visit her it’s disheartening to see how some of these wonderful people are “forgotten”. Thanks for listening. and thanks Christy for your wonderful recipes and stories of family and for all you do to spread sunshine!!

  4. Wendy Hoy says

    As a nurse who works in a nursing home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish more people would do something this small for our elderly. Every small action adds up to a big one. We had a group that made throws for our residents. My residents treasured what they recieved. Thank you again for what you do. I hope other readers will feel inspired to do the same thing.

  5. Jamie Hines says

    This is a wonderful thing you do! I’m also so excited to see that you are coming to Florence, on my birthday!!!! I do hope you post about that soon so I will know how to hopefully attend this event! I love your recipes and your website!!! :)

  6. says

    Have had serving nursing homes on my mind a lot lately. So very thankful I’ve read this and will see how I can do this or something similar in our area. Thanks SO much for sharing!
    Blessings today and every day,
    Kaye
    Matthew 21:22

  7. Virginia says

    This was my first visit after reading about you in an issue of Southern Living. I love your site and have already posted several recipes to my “Recipe Box.” You cook like I try to. Thanks.

  8. Amy says

    Christie (or anyone more creative than I am),

    When you wrap each one, do you have a special way of making them look inviting? I’m a real dud when it comes to gift-wrapping….it looks like the gift was handled by a toddler.

    Thanks!

  9. Melissa Harrison says

    For several years now I have gone to my local Sam’s club because they have an Angel Tree set up where you can adopt a senior. The first year I participated the lady in charge of the tree was there. It broke my heart when she told me that seniors listed on the tree had no living family members, so this was a chance for them to receive at least one Christmas gift.

    Christy, I love your idea about adopting a local nursing home. I am going to look into doing that this year. That way I can help more than just a few people.

  10. misty says

    It is a truly loving & thoughtful gift. And simple to put into action.

    At $3.00 per bottle, Suave body wash is a good deal. If you are not particular about the brand, you can buy from Dollar Tree, get the bottles for a third of the price, & have yourself a great deal.

    Dollar Tree carries White Rain body wash & a variety of other full-size body washes for, you guessed it, a dollar!

    They also have where you can order large quantities of an item & have them delivered to your home (shipping costs) or delivered to your local Dollar Tree where you can pick them up yourself (free shipping). You could get the body wash cheaper & save yourself the time & trouble of hunting down some odd hundreds of bottles that you have to wag around in grocery carts, then grocery bags, & find a way to store them until wrapping time.

    Whereas, if they’re shipped, they’re in boxes ready to stack in your garage, closet, whatever . . . anyhow, I hope this is helpful. I have loved Dollar Tree ever since I found it when my kids were little. When I hardly had a dime, I knew when we went to Dollar Tree I could let each of my three kids pick out any toy they wanted without having to tell them they had to put it back because it cost too much.

    When I was in GA’s (Girls In Action) as a girl at my church, we used to go & sing songs, make cards, & visit at a local nursing home. My girls did the same when they were old enough. I remember singing the same songs for my Granny & Grandma when they were in the nursing home. I was so sad that they could no longer stay at home due to Alzheimer’s & Dementia

  11. Susan says

    Hi Christy,
    You do so many loving, kind things for other people, I know your going to have a special place in heaven.
    I was wondering if I could send you a twenty dollar donation ( maybe in the form of a Wal-mart gift card ?) to help purchase body wash for your nursing homes ? I live in Texas and can’t bring them to you, but would love to help. Thanks, let me know.
    Also I thought this poem kinda fit.
    ( Author and title unknown. )
    If you’re ever going to love me,
    Love me now, while I can know
    All the sweet and tender feelings
    Which from real affection flow.
    Love me now, while I am living;
    Do not wait till I am gone
    And then chisel it in marble
    Warm love words on ice-cold stone.
    I won’t need your kind caresses
    When the grass grows o’er my face;
    I won’t crave your love or kisses
    In my last low resting place.
    So, then, if you love me any,
    If it’s but a little bit,
    Let me know it now while living;
    So I can own and treasure it.

    • says

      Oh my gosh you are so kind! You are the one that is going to have a special place in heaven. If you would like to do that I can guarantee that it will be put to good use and go far in helping with the nursing home project. Thank you so much!! My PO box is:
      Christy Jordan
      P.O. Box 2308
      Madison AL 35758

  12. Ally says

    I am a music therapist and used to work in a nursing home as an activity director. Another way you can help is to volunteer your time. ADs are expected to provide a lot for very little money. Activity dept. is not a priority when it comes to budgeting. So ask the AD what their needs are. They might need people to help on arts and crafts days. Some residents need a lot of assistance (and encouragement) to complete a project. ADs only have to 2 hands, so if you have a knack for craftiness, this is a way you can serve. Another way to help is to help with games. Seniors love games where they can win prizes and some need assistance with things like placing the game pieces on Bingo cards. Or volunteer to call the Bingo game. A really big way to help is donation of Bingo prizes. Check with the AD and see what is appropriate. Snack crackers, sugar free candy, snack sizes of pudding, personal care products, little knickknacks are some things seniors enjoy. And if you are gifted musically, this is a wonderful thing to share with seniors. Most of them adore music, and even when other things may be forgotten, many still remember the music they love. Share some music with them and you will make their day.

  13. Nelanie McAfee says

    I’m a school teacher (2nd grade) in Milledgeville, GA. Our second graders do service projects all throughout the year. Thanks to your suggestion, we now have our project for Christmas. We’ll also make cards and decorations, too.

  14. Elaine Kandeler says

    The nursing home where I sometimes volunteer during the holidays is rather large, so sometimes a group will adopt a wing , then each member adopts one person that lives on that floor to buy for, since different people have different needs. Many have no family, and just spending a little time with them makes a world of difference.
    I used to buy and just leave the gifts, but found out later that employees helped themselves to them before they were handed out. Therefore, when I take gifts I hand them out myself to make sure that they end up in the right hands. The smallest of gifts, even a stuffed animal, means so much to them. To see a smile on their face says it all.

    Dollar Tree is a great place to find affordable and usable items when you are having to buy quantity., or put together gift baskets. T

  15. Michelle Humes says

    I work as a CNA in a nursing home and body wash is a great idea because it is something most of them use alot of. I would also like to make another suggestion, most of our elderly folks are cold all the time whether it be summer or winter. So those throws you can get at the Dollar General for about 3 dollars is also a welcome gift because not only does it provide warmth it also gives them a sense of security. I know when my grandmother was in our nursing home all she really wanted was her own blankets on the bed to make it feel more like home and not an intitution. Also socks or slippers are very welcome also. Thank you all for caring.

  16. Rhonda Fleming says

    I call bingo for a local nursing home. I started calling when my husbands grandmother was living and I have continued on after her passing. It brings so much joy to the residents but I believe they bring me so much joy. I look forward to seeing them every week.

  17. Su says

    Hi Christy, some time back, quite a few weeks now when you were first talking about the ‘adopting a nursing home’ on Facebook I made a Paypal transfer through to via your SP email address. Hope you got it okay! :)

  18. Freda says

    This is the Best Idea I have heard of Yet.
    Thanks so Much for Planting this seed!!
    I think I may try to adopt the Same Idea out here in the “North West”, if this is exceptable to Christy.

    I agree with the Person that Stated they Love Music. I have to agree, I don’t think there is a person on the Planet that Cannot relate to Music, in any form.

    PS, I watched You on the Paula Deen Show, How Exciting that Must have been.

  19. Jill T says

    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been trying to think of something special to do this holiday season for the residents of a nursing home to let them know–they are remembered and loved this holiday season. I love the idea of providing gifts for the staff to give, to share the joy and I absolutely cannot wait to do this! Your creativity is greatly appreciated and your kind spirit is contagious. Merry Christmas!

  20. Brianne says

    This is a wonderful idea. I wanted to write you to tell you that when I was in nursing school and had clinical rotations in area nursing homes, it hurt my heart so bad that so many of these people had no personal belongings in their rooms at all. There were no family that came or even sent anything. Some of the things I noticed that are of great need are: personal soaps, lotions, brushes, ponytail holders, stuft animals, pictures or a pretty card to tape to their wall. The soaps you are giving are so wonderful as when I was helping give them baths all they had to bathe with was just the pump of hand soap mounted on the wall. I just thought that was horrible so GOD bless your mission. Merry Christmas!

  21. Brenda Herring says

    I did this as a teenager with my Sunday School class years ago and really enjoyed it. However, when my grandmother and my husband’s grandmother were both in the nursing home at the same time. I saw first hand how much these wonderful gifts mean to the residents. They are so appreciative and it means the world to the families as well. Thank you for your generous heart! May your gestures encourage others to do the same. Merry Christmas!!!
    Brenda Herring

  22. Tricia Protzman says

    I worked as a nurse in nursing homes for years in two states and have a special place in my heart for seniors. Every Christmas, Churches, families of residents, and other caring people brought personal care items, candies, clothing, and other goodies to the residents. They so appreciated anything that was given them. Many did not have familys and rarely, if ever, had visitors. This is our most forgot about group in society and I am so happy to hear that you are involved with them, Christy. God bless you and your family.

  23. says

    I have been an Activity Coordinator in a nursing home for nearly 17 years, and I LOVE this idea! Body wash is something I always recommend, too, when folks ask me what to give.

    Another thought: you could also do this at Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day (How about “You smell pretty sweet to me, Valentine!” LOL) or just a random day of the year. Sometimes we get several groups at Christmas who will visit/ carol/ etc, and then we feel forgotten again until the next Christmas rolls around.

  24. Judy Seitzinger says

    Hey, Christy! Love your idea/project! Have to tell you, tho. My mom gave gifts at Christmas for all the people that worked with her while she was a resident in a SNF. We later found out that there were times when the gift wouldn’t get to the person intended, even tho they were all tagged. So, I would be a little cautious about dropping the gifts off. I know, if it ends up in someone else’s hands then they are the ones that will have to answer for it, but..

    Both of my folks died while under SNF care; my dad was there 1 year, Mom was there for almost 6. Slippers, socks, soft throw covers are some of the things I noticed the residents wanting. If they give prizes for Bingo, you can also always donate perfumes/colognes, hankerchiefs, jewelry, and the biggest hit always seemed to be – stuffed animals!!! These people can’t get out to buy gifts for their families so, when they win at Bingo they use the prize as a gift for their loved one. I use to go garage sales, etc and pick up all the nice ones I could find, take them home, clean them up and sanitize them. One year, we took 7 big garbage bags to the facility!!! (We live in a different state than my family.) The AD couldn’t get over it! AND, it was so cool to see the faces of the residents when they saw them!

    Sorry, I’m rambling, but you have brought back some memories, not all of them good unfortunately, and to find someone with so much compassion for our shut-ins touches my heart.

    Good luck on your project. I know it will be a big hit and take off like gang busters! God bless you on your ministery.

  25. Mrs. Tina says

    We just started a new “girls only” group at our church called, Chevron Girls (Conforming Our Hearts to be an Example, Victorious, Reaching Others in Need). And one of our missions as young girls of Christ is to have a servant’s heart and your story about the body wash for nursing homes has really interested me in extending your giving here in our town. It’s so important for our young girls (and boys) to understand being a servant and spreading Christ love with others. And if sending a simple gift to the sweet elderly makes them feel love then we want to be a part of that. Thanks for what you do and for encouraging us all by spreading goodness!!! Hopefully we can start collecting some bottles soon!! Now, we just need to adopt a nursing home……

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