Meals on Wheels Volunteers Help Home Instead Play Santa to 500 Area Seniors

A United Way Meals on Wheels volunteer poses for a picture as she packs her car with gift bags to deliver for Home Instead’s Be a Santa to a Senior program.

For the 17th year, many local seniors will receive holiday gift bags from the Birmingham area branch of Home Instead, a national provider of in-home care for seniors.

Through its collaborative program called “Be a Santa to a Senior,” Home Instead Senior Care has worked with United Way of Central Alabama’s Meals on Wheels program and a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) clinic to make sure certain elders are not forgotten during this year’s holiday season.

This year, 500 seniors in the Birmingham area have been identified to receive gift bags containing a variety of donated goods, including toiletries, self-care supplies and comfort items such as slippers.

In addition to donating gifts, volunteers are also key to delivering the bags to their recipients.

While 45 gift bags are being given to patients in the HRTSA (Heart Failure Transitional Care Services for Adults) Clinic at UAB, the other 455 are being delivered to Meals on Wheels clients throughout Jefferson County.

Since the Be a Santa to a Senior program began in Birmingham 17 years ago, the number of elderly residents receiving gifts has grown each year.

Dan Pahos, owner of Home Instead’s local operation, said the support that the program provides area seniors extends beyond the contents of the bags.

“The fact that someone’s knocking on their door, not only with gifts, but brining some holiday cheer, that is what we found,” Pahos told WBRC Fox 6. “The emotional aspect of it is what is greatly appreciated.”

Dan Pahos, owner of the Birmingham area Home Instead, helps load gift bags onto a United Way Hands On trailer.

Meals on Wheels has partnered with Home Instead on Be a Santa to a Senior since 2016. Meals on Wheels volunteers are critical to distributing the gift bags, as well as the meals they deliver to homebound seniors throughout Jefferson County five days a week.

Meals on Wheels is currently in need of a new delivery van to replace an aging vehicle in disrepair. You can help by donating here.