Santa visits forgotten
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent December 27, 2012 12:50PM
Lorraine receives a gift from Santa at Active Adult Day Care in Merrillville, Ind. Home Instead Senior Care brought the gifts and Superior Ambulance's Sherry Sink, as an elf, and Mike Bruno, as Santa, supplied the cheer. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Christmas arrived early at Active Day Adult Day Care in Merrillville, where seniors and persons with disabilities eagerly made their way to Santa and his elf to accept a gift, whether by wheelchair, with the aid of a walker or on their own two feet.
“Thank you, thank you Santa,” said Becky, who gave Santa a kiss on his bearded cheek as she accepted her gift — a warm, soft blanket and, like everyone else, a Beanie Baby.
Rudy shook the bearded man’s hand, then gave his elf a big hug. Nicole hugged Santa and then hugged him some more.
John joked with the jolly old man. “I’m growing a beard so I can help you,” he said as he waited his turn.
“Santa’s my favorite. I used to play Santa at Teppe’s,” John added.
On this day Santa was Mike Bruno and his elf was Sherry Sink, both of whom work for Superior Ambulance. They were passing out the gifts donated by area residents and businesses and gift-wrapped and delivered by Home Instead Senior Care in Merrillville.
The objective to Home Instead’s Be a Santa to a Senior program is to provide gifts and holiday cheer to lonely and forgotten seniors, who don’t have family in the area and probably won’t receive other gifts.
Active Day Care was just one of several stops they were making to deliver a total of 200 gifts, along with cards handmade by children at Bright Beginnings Day Care in Merrillville and an anonymous fourth-grade class, Aimee Schallenkamp, community service rep for Home Instead, said.
Schallenkamp said they received the names of recipients from local nursing homes, senior housing apartments and adult day care centers and put the names on various Angel Trees in senior living places in the region plus the Horizon Bank at 8590 Broadway in Merrillville.
“The community donated the gifts. We wrapped and organized them, and if any names were left over, we bought those gifts,” Schallenkamp said of Home Instead.
She said Craig Dwight, president of the Horizon Bank, said the bank would buy gifts for any names remaining on its Angel Tree.
After Santa left for his next stop, at a nursing home, the recipients at Active Day eagerly unwrapped their gifts.
Rudy showed off his gray hooded sweater to others, thrilled with his gift.
Jonnie received a soft, warm hat and scarf, which she said will get a lot of use pretty soon, as the weather is supposed to get colder.
John received a sweater and a Peace Beanie Baby, which he in turn gave to Nicole, who was explaining the stuffed animal to him.
“I’m giving another gift, my Beanie Baby to Nicole,” he said as she smiled and protested.