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Those little acts of kindness help everyone

By: Carol Feineman
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What a difference little acts of kindness can make. Spending just an hour or two out of the year, helping strangers no less, can go a long way. I saw that was true during Saturday’s fourth annual “Secret Santa for Seniors” presentation at Lincoln Manor and Villa Del Rey. There’s now an extra festive holiday spirit for 140 seniors at the assisted-living venues. That’s thanks to Lincoln Volunteer Center director Bob Romness, city of Lincoln public information officer Jill Thompson, volunteer Vonda Carlson coordinating donations and helpers from Lincoln Hills, and 40-plus “Secret Santa for Seniors” volunteers Saturday, Many of the seniors have no family living in California or, worse yet, simply no family at all, according to Rosa Avalos, the Villa Del Rey’s recreation director. And holidays are often hard for residents, when they remember being happily surrounded by their loved ones in prior years. After Saturday’s fourth annual Secret Santa for Seniors, however, the Lincoln Manor and Villa Del Rey seniors know that others are thinking about them and care enough about them to visit. “Our residents get comfort and joy from the community (putting on this event),” Rosa said appreciatively. “That’s why it’s so special, the community doing this for them. The residents get lonely.” The seniors were anything but lonely Saturday as they listened to Christmas carols by Lincoln Hills volunteers, enjoyed homemade cookies from Lincoln Moms and Kids Too Club members and received bagfuls of presents donated by Lincoln residents. The seniors also happily chatted with their guests. Henrietta and Hal Jones, who moved to Villa Del Rey from North Highlands, didn’t stop smiling during Saturday’s event. “This gives us bunches and bunches of happiness. We look forward to it every year,” Hal Jones said. “We love seeing everyone here.” His wife agreed, adding, “This makes Christmas enjoyable. It’s a little crowded but we love it. We love the singing.” And Saturday’s fourth annual Secret Santa for Seniors was just as meaningful to the volunteers of all ages. “I think it’s a great experience,” said Heidi Chandler, a Lincoln Moms and Kids Too member whose 5-year-old son passed out gifts to the seniors. “Everyone needs Christmas whether you’re 1 or 100. It’s about giving, living in a community where everyone comes together.” Heidi added that the mother’s club, in addition to running 15 playgroups, provides community service throughout the year. For her son, Jackson Chandler’s favorite part Saturday was handing out the gifts. “Passing out presents was fun. It felt good. Christmas means fun,” Jackson, a pre-kindergartner, said matter of factly. And, with the visit by 40-plus volunteers Saturday, the holiday became just as fun to the 140 seniors, many of whom aren’t usually surrounded by family, especially during this season. And, as the Villa Del Rey’s activities director points out, simply visiting the residents makes a huge positive difference to them. As of now, about 10 volunteers regularly visit Villa Del Rey residents. “If we could get volunteers to visit, not just holidays but every week, that would be great … ,” Rosa wished. Just little acts of kindness that make the world of difference to our neighbors. To volunteer to visit Villa Del Rey residents, call Rosa Avalos at 645-0106, extension 19. For more information on joining Lincoln Moms and Kids Too, visit online www.lincolnmomsandkidstoo.com.