Several senior citizens in Englewood and Littleton were treated to Christmas gifts last week as part of the Arapahoe County Elves for Seniors program.
According to information provided by Arapahoe County spokesperson Luc Hatlestad, the program is made possible by the county’s “internal homemaker staff.”
Even with the increasing number of COVID cases in the area, Hatlestad said county staff made their way out on Dec. 20 to hand deliver gifts to some of the community’s senior citizens.
To make the program possible, Hatlestad said the county partners with Home Instead, an organization that coordinates online donations via Amazon.
Through the program, Halestad said county staff selected 60 seniors this year, delivering gifts in Littleton and Englewood.
Describing some of the stops on Dec. 20, Halestad said it was worth it given how seniors would read the cards and happily open gifts.
For one resident, Leonard, gifts were not only provided to him, but county residents also included a special bone for his service dog, Rhett.
Another resident whom county staff called Thor was especially happy to get a visit given he is still recovering from some health issues. Hatlestad said Thor was excited to open his gift, which turned out to be a new phone. Thor told his gift givers that he is hoping for snow this Christmas and excited to have a new phone that will work a lot better than his old one.
On average, Halestad said, gifts are valued at $50, but sometimes a senior may really need/want a microwave or phone, allowing gifts to be a little more expensive.
“The recipients are chosen based on their needs — most of them don’t have family or friends close by, and some have none at all,” Halestad said. “Our staff members provide recommended gifts based on conversations they’ve had with their clients and their familiarity with the clients’ needs.”
Another visit was to Virginia, who besides getting a giant word search book, was excited that the Meals on Wheels program also came to her home earlier in the week, Halestad said.
“We don’t specifically ask them, in case we can’t fulfill a specific request, but we provide heartfelt and meaningful gifts based on their needs,” Halestad said. “The program runs year-round but is especially heartwarming during the holidays.”
In 2021, Hatlestad said, the Elves for Seniors programs has served more than 230 residents in Arapahoe County, noting that the number is a lot lower than county officials would like.
“COVID has made many seniors, or their family members, reluctant to receive weekly staff visits at home,” Halestad said.
Hatlestad said the program is mostly funded by Community Service Block Grant dollars, which only covers a portion of the overall need to keep the program going. The Arapahoe County Board has also contributed additional financial assistance from the county’s general fund, he said.
Through a five-year partnership with Home Instead, Hatlestad said, the program solicits donations from a donor network. To contribute, learn more by visiting the website at beasantatoasenior.com.
Hatlestad the program is open to residents of all ages but seniors are those in most need, noting that some clients are over 90 years old.