Christmas Comes Early for Area Seniors

By Gina Ford

December 5, 2010 Updated Dec 5, 2010 at 11:22 PM CDT

Christmas came a few weeks early for some area seniors as more than 100 Neighborhood House volunteers delivered Christmas gifts.

"Almost a thousand seniors will have receives a sack of presents- several presents- and a blanket," said Neighborhood House Director of Operations Larry Von Behren.

Barry Donald got a Sunday visit from the Dentino clan. Seven members of the family delivered wrapped gifts to the war veteran.

Santa Dentino, volunteer and mother of four said, "It makes us feel better about the season- giving instead of concentrating on what we're getting. Especially with four kids."

"Our seniors, we want to love and care for them, because they are special people who sometimes, I think, are forgotten," said Von Behren.

After the Dentino's four children put gifts under Barry's Christmas tree, the family spent time talking to him. He and Don Dentino- a fellow sailor- shared old stories about their time in the military.

After leaving Barry's Apartment, the large family ventured a few miles to visit Alice Wamsley, whose 99-year-old mother was visiting for the weekend.

"I certainly didn't expect this. It's nice that mom's here that she can enjoy some of it too," said Alice.

And while Santa Dentino, her mother-in-law and three daughters sat inside chatting with Alice, Don and David Dentino cleared snow and ice from her walkway.

"Christ teaches us to serve others and what better way to spend a day like today in doing that," said Don Dentino.

Alice could not wait to open her presents. She said her favorite was the full-sized blanket. Her mother was a fan of the giant bag of M&Ms.

Most of all Alice said she enjoyed the fact that the large family took the time to come visit perfect strangers.

She adds, "I used to be up and at 'em and out buying gifts and spending money and I can't do it now, I can't hardly walk."

"I think it's just really important to give back to the community and just seeing the looks on people's faces when they get the gifts that they normally wouldn't receive. It's a really nice feeling to do that," Rebekah Dentino said.

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