RISING SUN — More than 30 senior citizens in Cecil County living in one of four apartment complexes got a visit this week from “Santa For Seniors.”
“I think they really like the visits more than the gifts,” said Barbara Reed-DiGia, the woman behind the growing Christmas campaign.
This year, with help from John Bragg and his employees at UnWined on the Water in Elkton, “Santa For Seniors” raised $2,500 and was able to deliver loaded gift bags to 32 people.
Reed-DiGia works with the managers at McKinley Apartments in Rising Sun, Canal Town in Chesapeake City and The Cottages in Elkton to identify senior citizens who are lonely; those who do not have family or any kind of regular visitation.
“We’re just trying to deliver some Christmas cheer,” Reed-DiGia said.
It started about five years ago when her mom was a resident at McKinley, an apartment complex for seniors and the disabled on Dodson Drive.
“We started with 2 people, then 6, then 8, then 10,” she said.
While dining at UnWined On The Water at 285 Plum Point Road, Reed-DiGia said Bragg overheard her talking about the gifting campaign conducted by Reed-DiGia and her family and friends.
“He wanted to do something to help,” she said. Bragg not only made a personal donation but also dedicated a percentage of one day’s sales to the cause.
“I have the ability and I want to give back,” Bragg said. “I don’t want to be that business that just takes.”
That dedicated percentage day was a Saturday, he noted.
“We asked customers to donate $10 or $20 and we’d give them 10% or 20% off. This was on our busiest day,” he said. “We were really excited to see the number of people that participated.”
The UnWined donations allowed the Santas to fill 32 bags with gifts.
“It’s everything from snacks to laundry detergent, dryer sheets and quarters for the laundry, gift cards, coffee mugs, hot cocoa mix and more,” Reed-DiGia said. She even delivered Christmas cookies.
“They want you to come in and have a cookie. They just want to talk and tell their stories,” Reed-DiGia said, adding, “We always get tears.”
Bragg said it was inspiring to see Reed-DiGia talk about the campaign, about how it began and how it has blossomed.
“She’s very passionate about this and I was very excited to partner with her,” Bragg said. “This just hit home with me.”