Columbus, Ohio -- Columbus nonprofit Besa today kicks off an effort to send hundreds of Secret Santas around Columbus this holiday season to buy more than $45,000 in gifts for 1,000 local senior citizens.

This year marks the fifth for Besa’s Adopt a Senior program, which allows volunteers to sign up as Secret Santas for local senior citizens. Since its inception in 2012—when Secret Santas bought $240 in gifts for 26 seniors—Adopt a Senior has provided more than $40,000 in holiday gifts to nearly 1,000 senior citizens.

This year, with support from The Columbus Foundation, Besa aims to double last year’s gift total of $22,500. The Theodore J. and Thelma G. Tobbe Fund of The Columbus Foundation awarded Besa a $12,500 grant to support Besa’s Adopt a Senior and volunteer programs.

“These are people who don’t really have a lot of interaction with the outside world beyond their care managers. They’re not expecting anything for Christmas,” said Besa Executive Director Matthew Goldstein. “Helping 1,000 seniors is a big goal. But this city has rallied around this effort with so much heart in the past, we are confident we can make this happen.”

Volunteers can sign up to be Secret Santas at www.givebesa.org/adopt.

Each Secret Santa receives a wish list from a local senior citizen. Secret Santas then purchase and wrap gifts, leave the gifts with Besa, and the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging and National Church Residences deliver the gifts.

Besa is a Columbus nonprofit dedicated to supporting those who need it most by connecting people and businesses with local charities, from food pantries to homeless shelters. Besa offers a portal at www.givebesa.org where Columbus residents can easily find and register for volunteer opportunities citywide; it hosts drives for various nonprofits; and it helps corporate partners manage and enhance their philanthropic efforts. For more, visit www.givebesa.org.

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