After successfully providing gifts to senior residents in a local nursing home last year for the first “Santa to Seniors” project, a group of high school students are coming together this year to provide gifts to residents of three Central Florida nursing home and assisted living facilities. The “Santa to Seniors” project began last year when Kennedy Jackson, who is now a sophomore at Bishop Moore Catholic High School, learned that many seniors in nursing homes or assisted living facilities rarely receive visits or gifts during the holidays.

 This motivated Kennedy to create a community service project for teens, “Santa to Seniors,” to deliver Christmas gifts and cards to seniors at local nursing homes.

 “After reading stories about how seniors may be ignored during the Christmas holiday, and the focus being placed more on kids, I wanted to do something special for the seniors in our community,” Kennedy said. For the first “Santa to Seniors” project, Kennedy, as the lone participant, delivered 50 gifts and handwritten cards to residents at Courtyards of Orlando.

This year, “Santa to Seniors” has grown to 10 student volunteers from Bishop Moore and Apopka High School, and through the sponsorship of two local attorneys, Greg Jackson and Daniel Smith, as well as community support from Orange County District 2 Commissioner Rod Love, the teens will deliver gifts to over 100 seniors in three Central Florida nursing home and assisted living facilities that include Courtyards of Orlando and Wellsprings Residence in Apopka.

“When I heard about the ‘Santa to Seniors’ project, I knew it was something good for the community and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Re’Anna Love, an Apopka High sophomore. Kennedy and Re’Anna are no strangers to community service; this past spring, the two teens hosted a Community Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 2 to 12 in Apopka. That event was sponsored by the radio talk show program LET’S TALK ABOUT IT, which is broadcast every Monday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on WOKB 1680am and is hosted by Commissioner Rod Love and Attorney Greg Jackson, Re’Anna’s and Kennedy’s dads, respectively.

For now, “Santa to Seniors” is a group of Central Florida teens coming together from two high schools to bring Christmas cheer to seniors, however, the ambitious group has plans to expand. “The goal is to give gifts to hundreds of seniors every Christmas with students from middle and high schools across Central Florida participating,” Kennedy explained to the teen volunteers at the most recent planning meeting. “Not only is this a great way to get community service hours,” Commissioner Rod Love told parents of the teens at the meeting, “It is also a great way to serve others.”

Students who participate in the “Santa to Seniors” project can receive community service hours through Attorney Greg Jackson or Commissioner Rod Love. “This is about developing and supporting the next generation of leaders,” Jackson said as he helped the teens make handmade bracelets to place in the gift box.

Gifts will be delivered to the select nursing home and assisted living facilities on December 21st by the teens, parent volunteers, and the project sponsors.

For more information on the “Santa to Seniors” project, please contact Gregory Jackson, Esq., at (321) 287- 8807 or via email at gregory_jacksonesq@yahoo.com.

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