Published: Dec 04, 2013 6:07 AM EST
Updated: Dec 04, 2013 12:51 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - This season, holiday shoppers in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties can give cheer to area seniors by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

The program – run by the local Home Instead Senior Care office in partnership with Grace Works Unlimited LLC, local businesses, volunteers and members of the community – helps ensure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship during the holidays. This can be a difficult time for many, especially those who live alone or have lost spouses and loved ones.

An estimated 27 percent of people 65 and older (10.8 million people) are widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Further, the Administration on Aging reports about 28 percent (11.8 million) non-institutionalized people 65 and older live alone.

Retailers participating in Be a Santa to a Senior will display Christmas trees from Nov. 1 to Dec. 26 that feature ornaments with seniors’ first names and their gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament from these trees, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped to the store, with the ornament attached.

Be a Santa to a Senior trees will be located at:

• Physiotherapy Associates, 9250 Corkscrew Road, #11, Estero, FL 33928
• Bar Louie, 10035 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33913
• Brooks Fitness Center, 3501 Health Center Blvd #1200, Bonita Springs, FL 34135
• Brooks Pharmacy, 3501 Health Center Blvd, Bonita, FL 34135
• Calistoga Bakery, 10021 Gulf Center Dr. #230, Fort Myers, FL 33913
• Commons Club (fitness center), 9950 Coconut Rd. Bonita Springs 34135.
• Crispers, 13711 Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33912
• Cypress Pharmacy, 9371 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908
• Dairy Queen, 14891 Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33909
• Dairy Queen, 3251 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33901
• Dairy Queen, 9011 Cody Lee Road, Fort Myers, FL 33913
• Foot Solutions- Estero, 41 and Corkscrew, Estero, FL 33928
• Handel's Ice Cream, 3440 Renaissance Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 34150
• Legacy Church, 20041 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 1, Estero, FL 33928
• Light House Bay Club at the Brooks, Bonita Springs, FL 34135
• Mel's Diner, 4820 South Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33913
• Miller's Ale House, 10065 Gulf Center Dr., Fort Myers, FL 33913
• Moe's Southwest Grill, 1631 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33914
• Moe's Southwest Grill, 13711 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33912
• Moe's Southwest Grill, 10021 Gulf Center Dr. #230, Fort Myers, FL 33908
• Nail Salon, 16520 S Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33908
• San Carlos Chiropractic, Inc., 19150 Acorn Rd., #103, Fort Myers, FL 33967
• St. John's Choir, Immokalee Rd., Napes, FL 34110
• Sweet Tomatoes, 14080 South Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33912
• Walgreens, 17050 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33908

The local Home Instead Senior Care office will enlist volunteers from its staff, senior-care business associates, non-profit workers and others to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts to local seniors who might otherwise spend the holiday alone.

“Be a Santa to a Senior gives back to older adults in our area, many of whom have had significant, positive influence on our lives,” said Sue Bidwell, owner at the local Home Instead Senior Care office. “During this season of giving, we encourage shoppers to buy a little extra to say thank you to these community members.”

If you're interested in volunteering as a gift-wrapper, wrapping parties are being held every Tuesday & Thursday, 1- 4 p.m. at the Fort Myers, Punta Gorda and Naples Home Instead Senior Care locations. The general public is invited to come and help.

Home Instead Senior Care office locations are:
o 16520 Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers
o 520 E Olympia Ave., Punta Gorda
o 10621 Airport Pulling Rd. N #8, Naples

For more information about the program, visit or call 239-226-0007.