|Taconic High Students Play Santa To Seniors At Hillcrest|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
03:26PM / Tuesday, December 18, 2012
|Gift bags for senior citizens were decorated by elementary school pupils.|
Taconic High School students Eukeria Asamoah and Adjoa Boateng helped Angelina Flynn open one of her presents at Hillcrest Commons.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Santa didn't forget the county's mostly isolated seniors.
Home Instead Senior Care has led an community effort to bring gifts and cards to more than 300 seniors across the county. The annual Be A Santa To A Senior program has "exploded" and this year involved schools and the highest number of gifts it's provided in the last 10 years.
"This is the year it exploded," said Dorsey Hydon, one of the organizers for Home Instead.
Each year, names of seniors who are struggling financially or who have few family remaining are collected from human services organizations. Those names are placed on four trees and residents purchase gifts for them.
This year, schools jumped on board. Children from Crosby, Capeless and Williams elementary schools decorated the gift bags. Stearns and Williams elementary pupils and Hillcrest Educational Centers students made cards and, on Tuesday, students from Taconic High School helped deliver some of the gifts to seniors at Hillcrest Commons.
"This is the first year the schools are jumping in and it's awesome," Hydon said. "We've sponsored 300 seniors this year. It's grown immensely."
Taconic health science teacher Amy Green said many of her students have worked at Hillcrest Commons as part of the class and it was nice to be able to bring the students back.
"They are students who are interested in health careers," she said. "They have worked here as part of the program. It's nice that they can come back and see the residents again."
Taconic's English department also jumped in on the action with students taking up a collection and shopping for some of the senior citizens.
Home Instead has been delivering gifts this week to seniors all over the county — from Williamstown to Great Barrington — and hopes to finish by Saturday.