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Park Pointe residents help wrap gifts for the Be a Santa program

MORRIS – Fletcher Strickland’s professional wrapping skills proved useful Wednesday at the Be a Santa to a Senior gift wrapping party.

“My wife was the professional, but she taught me,” said Strickland, whose wife worked at Marshall Field’s in Chicago for several years. “The trick is in the folding.”

Strickland and his fellow residents at Park Pointe Senior Living spent their Wednesday morning wrapping more than 50 presents for less fortunate seniors in Grundy County.

“The gifts were for seniors who don’t have any family or friends around,” Park Pointe resident Helen Shaw said. “Most of us here have somebody. It was nice to help out those who don’t.”

The Be a Santa to a Senior program – sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care – provides gifts and companionship to local seniors who otherwise may not receive either this holiday season. The event will provide 550 gifts to seniors in Grundy, Bureau, LaSalle and Putnam counties.

Locally, the program will provide gifts for 80 seniors in Grundy County.

“So many people help with this project,” said Laurie Krischel, organizer of Grundy County’s Be a Santa to a Senior Program. “The community is awesome. They buy all of the presents.”

Last year, the local National Honor Society hosted the wrapping party, but Krischel said she wanted to try something different this year.

“I thought it would be really neat for people who are capable of wrapping, but maybe don’t get the chance, to be our elves this year,” Krischel said.

Melissa Willis, activities coordinator at Park Pointe Senior Living, said she jumped at the chance to help other seniors in the community.

“When I approached the residents about it, they couldn’t wait to do it,” Willis said. “They all wanted to know if they could buy gifts themselves.”

About 15 Park Pointe residents came to the party, many bringing their own wrapping supplies.

Resident Marion Sorensen said she isn’t used to wrapping presents for the holidays.

“I’m all wrapped out,” Sorensen said. “My daughter usually does my wrapping for me.”

Although the residents relaxed, enjoyed cookies, coffee and conversation while they wrapped, they finished in an hour and a half, much earlier than expected.

“It was like we were racing or something,” Willis said. “I think everyone was just really excited.”

Krischel said this was the first year she had seniors wrapping for seniors. Willis said the event was so successful, she is already planning for next year.

Krischel said she will enlist the help of another local group – possibly the Girl Scouts – to finish wrapping the remaining 30-plus presents.

“Every year, I try to get as many people involved in this as possible,” Krischel said.

The gifts will be delivered anonymously to local seniors within the next few weeks with help from the Community Nutrition Network and the Grundy County Health Department Senior Division.

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