Being Santa for Seniors

CHRISTUS Associates spent part of a December morning volunteering to wrap Christmas presents for Catholic Charities of Dallas – Brady Center Senior Ministry.

Nearly 100 CHRISTUS volunteers gathered to cut and tie ribbons and wrap the gifts.

While many think of Christmas as a time for children to receive gifts, some forget seniors may not receive presents. Those Seniors who live on low incomes, get few visitors at Christmas or who might be forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the holidays also need to be remembered during the holiday season.

Tonya Robertson, an Assistant to the CHRISTUS Training Audit and Quality team, said this was the first year she has been able to break away from work for 30 minutes to help out. She’s glad she did.

“I felt like a million bucks before taxes,” Tonya explained. “It is just the idea of helping people. I am going to soon be in that senior age group. They are not forgotten and I wanted to be a part of this work.”

In Good Company

Connie Hess, an Executive Assistant in CHRISTUS Health Outcomes, echoed those sentiments. The team building and increased engagement at the wrapping event helped start her day off right.

“It was an extremely fun event with laughter and an opportunity to meet new CHRISTUS Associates in other departments,” said Connie. “I would like to do more. The last CHRISTUS event, like this one, involved helping to package food for the hungry which was also amazing.”

Giving is Good

Connie and Tonya both know their volunteering will help others, but there are studies that actually show what they did can also boost their physical and mental health.

According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, people who give others support have lower blood pressure, greater happiness and lower stress levels than people who do not take part in supportive interactions through community and organizational involvement.

The Heart Value

CHRISTUS has a high rate of community service and volunteerism among Associates, which might be a good thing when it comes to protecting their hearts from heart disease. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that being a volunteer is good for the heart as well as the soul. The study reported better improvements in several measurements of heart health from better BMI, inflammation levels and cholesterol scores in just 10 weeks for those who volunteered taking part in community programs or special projects at work.

No one conducted a health test on these CHRISTUS Associates who took great joy at playing Santa for some Dallas seniors, but they describe it as doing wonders to how they feel.

“Being here at CHRISTUS reminds me of the reason for the season, and that makes me happy and warms my heart,” said Tonya.