Caribou area seniors receive extra holiday cheer thanks to secret Santas

2 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Christmas became a little brighter for many senior citizens in Caribou and surrounding towns thanks to an army of Secret Santas and helpers.

In the days leading up to the holiday, community volunteers wrapped and delivered presents to about 140 individuals living in senior apartments or their own homes. The gifts came courtesy of residents who purchased and donated items as part of Age Friendly Caribou’s second annual Senior Santa project.

Cindy Blanchette of Woodland wraps presents for local senior citizens as part of Caribou’s Senior Santa project. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

As of Monday, Dec. 20, Elizabeth Singer, Age Friendly Caribou coordinator, said that this year’s gift totals were expected to surpass last year’s total of 200 gifts. 

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our community,” Singer said, as she helped volunteers wrap gifts at the Caribou recreation center.

The wide variety of gifts included winter-themed blankets and pillows, slippers, puzzles and adult coloring books. Caribou eighth-graders provided handmade Christmas cards and gift cards to local businesses. Many of the items, Singer noted, were wrapped together so that seniors could receive more than one gift.

Volunteers with Age Friendly Caribou were busy this past week, wrapping presents donated by community members as part of the Senior Santa drive. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

Age Friendly Caribou partnered with Aroostook Agency on Aging to provide gifts for Meals on Wheels recipients. Folks on the Meals on Wheels list received gifts when volunteers delivered meals on Dec. 21.

Cindy Blanchette of Woodland has been a Meals on Wheels driver for two years. Many of the seniors she visits are homebound, live in more isolated parts of her coverage area and do not always have visitors during the holidays.

“A lot of times the [Meals on Wheels] drivers are the only people they see on a given week,” Blanchette said.

Senior Santa has become a small but impactful way for Blanchette to give those folks a reason to smile.

“They’re beyond grateful for anything they receive,” Blanchette said. “Many have burst into tears, absolute tears.”