This past year has been extremely difficult for many, including area senior citizens in nursing homes. Once able to see loved ones on a regular basis, nursing home attendees have been largely isolated for the majority of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hoping to boost Refugio nursing homes with a little holiday spirit, the Refugio County Chamber of Commerce has put together a “Senior Santa” project to show that our wisest generations are cared for, even if they cannot be visited.

“Too many times, the people in nursing homes are forgotten,” Refugio County Chamber President Lenny Anzaldua said. “This is something that we concern ourselves about.”

The “Senior Santa” project is simple, yet effective. A Christmas tree has been set up at the Chamber building, located at 301 N. Alamo St., featuring ornaments with a tag attached. Each tag has the name of a resident from either Mission Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center or Refugio Manor on it, along with two or three gift wishes for the holiday season.

“Some want a blanket, some want jogging pants … there’s no big wants out there, but it’s something that they just can’t get out and get,” Anzaldua said.

Gift purchases can be made for each nursing home resident. Gifts, after purchase, must be put into bags (no wrapping) and brought back to the Chamber office by Dec. 23. Once brought in, the Chamber will head out to the nursing homes and deliver gifts to the doorstep for Christmas, making sure to follow proper social distancing protocols.

The project idea is to not only provide nursing home residents with material goods, but to let them know they are not by themselves during a particularly turbulent holiday season.

“Right now, the worst thing that can happen is you can die alone,” Anzaldua said. “A lot of people say that, you see that in movies a lot, ‘I don’t want to die alone!,’ and that’s what’s happening with this (pandemic) and the locking people (down).”

Anzaldua echoed his support for the nursing home residents of Refugio, noting that many prominent citizens end up in the facilities over time.

“You look at some of these people in there, and their lives were just like yours and mine,” he said. “They were intricate parts of the community, and they gave (to the community), and then their spouse passes or something, and they end up there…someone who has given and given and given just ends up by themselves. It’s tough.”

The “Senior Santa” project is just one of several activities for seniors the Chamber is a part of for the holidays. On top of the gift-giving, the Chamber helps make blankets for veteran military members within nursing facilities, giving them out for Christmas. This year, due to the pandemic, these blankets will have to be dropped off at the front of a home, and they will be given out by home nurses.

For more information on how to get involved with the “Senior Santa” project, call the Chamber at 361-526-2835 or email refugiochamber@sbcglobal.net.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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