SAN ANTONIO – Tucked in the back of Salon Ester is a 9-foot twinkling Christmas tree surrounded by gifts with tags that read "female" or "male."
The tree is part of a program called "Be a Santa to a Senior," run by Home Instead Senior Care, a global company that provides care for the aging.
"You forget that seniors also like to get a little something under the tree," said Jackie Robb with the local franchise.
The holidays can be an intensely lonely time for many seniors who have few friends and family to care for them, or perhaps none at all.
"You make someone's day for someone that feels forgotten," Robb said. "I can't tell you doing this the last eight years, how many seniors say they've been forgotten."
So Home Instead partners with area businesses that are willing to display trees and paper ornaments bearing the wishes of seniors selected for the program.
"Our clients are really into it," said Raynee Aravit of Salon Ester. "It is just rewarding giving back."
Community members select the paper ornaments and buy the requested gifts, much like the well-known Angel Tree program for children.
The wishes are for simple needs, such as a blanket, socks, lotion, sweater or postage stamps.
Once the gifts are gathered, they will be delivered, along with priceless gifts of comfort and joy.
"Our little gift that may only cost you five bucks or 10 bucks is making a huge impact on that senior's life," Robb said. "It's letting them know someone still cares."
Anyone interested in helping can visit www.BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call (210) 614-1132.