AUSTINTOWN - Area residents are being asked to lend a hand to help get holiday gifts for local senior citizens in the tri-county area as part of the 10th annual "Be a Santa to a Senior" program.
Dottie Johntony of Home Instead Senior Care said there are 600 names this year placed on holiday trees at various locations in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
"This is the official kickoff," she said, noting that Sen. Joe Schiavoni of District 33 and his 14-month-old son, Louie, were the first this week to take an ornament off the tree at Optiview Vision Center in Austintown.
Tree locations are Optiview Vision Center, 5537 Mahoning Ave., Austintown; Optiview Vision Center, 1040 Youngstown Warren Road, Niles; Walgreens at state Route 46 and Mahoning Avenue, Austintown; Walgreens at Meridian Road and Mahoning Avenue, Austintown; Walgreens, 3800 Tippecanoe Road in Cornersburg; Walmart on Millennium Boulevard off Elm Road in Bazetta; and Belle Sole Salon, 945 Boardman-Canfield Road, Boardman.
Johntony said the students in the Career Paths to the Teaching Profession at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center also has a tree.
"They have 125 of our ornaments this year and have helped in previous years," Johntony said.
Once all of the gifts have been returned a wrapping party is being planned for Dec. 12 at Home Instead offices, 45 N. Canfield Niles Road, Suite 600, Austintown.
"We get all kinds of donations from the community and so many people volunteer their time to help us wrap the items," she said.
Johntony said items will be delivered on Dec. 16.
"The need is especially great this year, " Johntony said, noting the community's effort helps to make a difference in the life of a local senior.
Home Instead Senior Care teams up with local non-profit agencies and area retailers to sponsor the program that collects, wraps and delivers gifts to area seniors in the area who otherwise might be overlooked this holiday season.
She said there are about 100 more seniors needing items this year with last year's total ornaments 500.
Johntony said the names come from Catholic Charities, Guardian Angels Probate Court Division and the Hands on Volunteer Network and also local nursing homes.
Each ornament has two or three items listed of what a local senior citizen wants. Johntony said seniors provide a list which is narrowed down.
"Whatever someone wants to give. Many seniors appreciate getting blankets, shampoos and hygiene items. Many are things they cannot afford to buy for themselves," Johntony said.
Deadline for gifts to be turned in is Dec. 10 at the locations where the ornament name was from or to the main office.
Those wanting to volunteer are asked to call 330-729-1233.
Johntony said it is important to call to ensure there is enough room.