During the season of Santa Claus and gift giving, the children tend to be at the forefront while the growing population of senior citizens fades into the background.
But for the last 18 years, deputies at the Hampton Sheriff’s Office have volunteered to ensure seniors from the Hampton Dining Club are getting “a little extra attention during a busy and often hectic Christmas season,” they said in a recent news release.
This year, deputies escorted and took about 12 seniors to Target at Peninsula Town Center for a holiday shopping trip sponsored by Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts.
“After a busy time shopping, and a short bus ride, Sheriff Roberts treated the senior group to a complimentary buffet lunch at a local restaurant,” the deputies said.
For elderly residents who have lost their ability to drive or who may even become a target for scams, Randi Chew, the vice president of development for the Peninsula Agency on Aging, said events like this can make all the difference for a group that probably otherwise would forgo Christmas shopping.
“The holidays are a challenge for them [senior citizens]…oftentimes a majority of them are alone,” she said. “They’re not able to do the same things that they’ve always been able to do in years past and so they lose some of those abilities to go out and go shopping or to be able to enjoy the holidays.”
The Peninsula Agency on Aging is provided by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and seeks to support the independence and quality of life for residents in Hampton, Newport News, York County, and James City County age 60 years and older, according to the website.
“Isolation is a deadly part of our seniors’ population,” Chew said, adding which is why the agency programs and events like the dining clubs are so important for seniors who can get out and socialize over a meal.
For those who are “homebound,” there’s Meals On Wheels when volunteers bring prepared meals to a senior’s home and the Senior Angel Tree program which provides their more than 500 clients with gifts over the holidays hand-delivered by the agency’s staff and volunteers.
Knowing about the free resources available for the aging population in the community and simply checking in on your neighbor are a few ways Chew said people can make sure senior citizens and their legacies aren’t forgotten “throughout the holidays but also throughout the year.”
“My favorite part when I go and deliver the Christmas gifts is listening to their stories…I’m helping them carry on a part of their legacies,” she said.
For more on resources and programs available through the Peninsula Agency on Aging, click here.