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'Be a Santa to a Senior'

Home Instead Senior Care partners with the community to identify seniors who might not receive gifts this holiday season.

WESTBROOK, Maine — The holidays can be a difficult time for people, especially for senior citizens who don't have family to spend them with.

Home Instead Senior Care is trying to change that, by having complete strangers buy gifts for seniors.

88-year-old Charlie DePeter lives at a senior housing complex in Westbrook.

"Oh yeah you get lonely sometimes. I was married for 56 years. That's a lifetime," said DePeter.

His wife died ten years ago. He does what he can to stay busy, but the holidays can be a difficult.

"I like to have people come and visit," said DePeter.

It's why Home Instead Senior Care does "Be a Santa to a Senior" program. Christmas trees are placed all over Cumberland County, where people can buy gifts for our most vulnerable. Volunteers can deliver them right to their door. DePeter has received gifts from strangers for more than eight years.

"Most of it was L.L. Bean. I got a pair of slippers which I still have. It's what we're supposed to do to help each other. It makes everyone feel good, especially at Christmas," said DePeter.

Buffy Hoop is one of those volunteers. She delivers presents to DePeter ever year.

"It's overwhelming. It makes you feel happy and sad at the same time, because our senior citizens unfortunately seemed to be the ones that are left out. They're the ones that have lived life the most. They have all the stories to tell, but no one to tell them to," said Hoop.

Luckily DePeter tells his stories to his daughter, and gets to spend Christmas Eve with her.

Others are not so lucky, and the donated gifts from strangers are the only ones they'll get.

Last year, more than 450 Cumberland County seniors received gifts. If you like to get involved or find out where trees are located you can visit https://www.beasantatoasenior.com/ 

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