When Kennedy Jackson, a freshman at Bishop Moore, learned that many seniors in nursing homes or living alone rarely receive gifts during the holidays, she wanted to do something to bring Christmas cheer to some Orlando, Apopka and other Central Florida seniors. This motivated Kennedy to create a community service project for teens, called “Santa to Seniors”, to provide Christmas gifts and cards to nearly 50 seniors at local nursing homes.
“I started reading Christmas posts and articles and saw that the focus was more on kids and it seemed that our elders were being forgotten during the holidays,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy worked to develop the framework for the seniors’ holiday gift-giving project with some assistance from her mom, Bayyinah Tobey-Jackson, a registered and licensed dietitian who is also a nutrition consultant for a term care facility, and her dad, Greg
Jackson, a well-known attorney who co-hosts the weekly talk radio program, LET’S TALK ABOUT IT with Rod Love, a respected business owner from Apopka. Kennedy then reached out to her friends for help.
“I texted and called my friends at Bishop Moore and Apopka High, and spoke to my crew teammates from North Orlando Rowing about this project to give back to Seniors and everyone I spoke to was excited and wanted to help wrap gifts and write cards.”
For now, “Santa to Seniors” is a group of Central Florida teens coming together to bring Christmas cheer to seniors, but Kennedy has plans to start a non-profit organization and is already setting up for next year’s “Santa to Seniors” project. “I have asked my mom, dad and Mr. Love to serve on the advisory board for the organization to provide guidance and to assist with fundraising,” Kennedy continued, “My goal is to let seniors know teens care about them. What better way to show that than to give gifts to hundreds of seniors every year with the help of students from high schools across Central Florida.”
Students who participate in the “Santa to Seniors” project can receive community service hours through Attorney Greg Jackson or Rod Love, who operates a 501(c)3 organization. “This is about developing and supporting the next generation of leaders,” Jackson said as he helped wrap gifts for seniors under his daughter’s watchful eye.