Kristi Beeler, the owner of Kristina’s Studio of Dance, led a total of 20 volunteers in collecting donations, purchasing items, stuffing stockings and delivering them to 11 local nursing homes on Christmas Eve. Beeler began the Stockings for Seniors tradition five years ago upon recognizing seniors as an underserved demographic around the holidays.
“I was driving home one night and I thought about all the seniors in our nursing homes at Christmas time,” Beeler said. “I thought — I wish there was something I could do for them. I thought it would be so cool if Santa could come see them on Christmas Eve. It’s something I felt like was needed because so many times seniors are forgotten and there’s already so much for kids.”
The first year, Beeler posted about the idea on Facebook and received enough stockings and donations to serve three nursing homes. This year, Beeler said nearly 850 stockings were stuffed and delivered.
“We’ve done as many as 900 in the past,” Beeler said. “It just depends on what I have for donations. It’s a lot to take on because most of the time it’s only me and one of my friends. This year, I didn’t have nearly as many volunteers.”
Beeler and a few friends handled the donations. Around 10 volunteers helped stuff the stockings. Then, four Santa teams visited the nursing homes to deliver the stockings. Beeler explained these groups of volunteers combined to make the 20 volunteers that helped with this year’s event.
“It was pretty exciting to visit 11 nursing homes,” Beeler said. “It’s pretty intense too because I have to get everything here at the studio. Then, I move it up to Fairview Baptist Church, who thankfully allows us to use their space to stuff the stockings. We also have to call the home and find out how many men and how many women there are. I try to do gender specific items if I need to.”
Beeler said she was worried there would not be enough donations this year.
“One last minute donation helped a lot,” Beeler said. “It’s hard to do things last minute but I am glad we got everything done. It is a humongous job. Every single person at the nursing home gets a stocking when we go.”
Beeler said she hopes to see the event continue to grow. Donations are received mostly through word of mouth and Facebook each year. Beeler hopes people will remember Stockings for Seniors around Christmas next year.