Golden Valley Fire Family Helps Be A Santa To Local Seniors
December 23, 2015
The Golden Valley Fire Family, made up of family members of Golden Valley firefighters, completed its second year spreading good cheer by supporting the Be A Santa To A Senior program. The project involves collecting donated gifts from drop-off areas, storing them until delivery day, then delivering them to seniors at local care centers.
Be A Santa To A Senior is a gift donation program started nine years ago for Minneapolis and the west suburbs by John Stuck. It is an extension of a nationwide program that gets Christmas presents to low-income seniors and seniors without families. That first year, the local program received about 100 donated gifts. This year, the number was in the thousands.
To deal with the growing demand, Stuck reached out for help. In 2014, he came to Golden Valley City Hall and asked for Fire Chief John Crelly, who got him in touch with the Fire Family.
“They were all in,” Stuck says.
The Fire Family volunteered to pick up donated gifts from the Golden Valley Starbucks, one of eight designated drop-off areas in the Twin Cities. Fire Family members picked up gifts every day—sometimes multiple times a day—for a month leading up to Christmas. The group stored the gifts at Golden Valley Fire Station 2 until delivery day, when they delivered the packages to seniors at the Golden Valley Rehabilitation and Care Center and The Villa at Bryn Mawr.
“This was our first big project as a group,” says Melissa Magnuson, who founded the Golden Valley Fire Family to provide a better way for spouses of Golden Valley firefighters to connect with one another.
But it wasn’t just the Fire Family’s first big project. It was also the first time Stuck reached out for help outside his own office.
Stuck said working with the Golden Valley Fire Family was so successful that this year he also reached out to four additional fire departments, including Hopkins, St Louis Park, Plymouth, and Minneapolis, who all contributed volunteers.
About The Campaign
The Be A Santa To A Senior campaign was first launched in 2006 by the Home Instead Senior Care network. At that time, Stuck, a local Home Instead franchise owner, decided to run his own branch of the program, and it has grown ever since. The local effort now delivers to roughly two dozen locations in the area.
Volunteers dress up like Santa Clause to distribute the gifts.
“These seniors will get the same look in their eyes as children do,” Stuck says. “It’s the power of Santa.”