Columbus, Ohio — Within 48 hours of Besa’s Adopt a Senior launching, hundreds of Secret Santas adopted all 1,250 senior citizens on Besa’s list. Those Secret Santas are now hitting stores to buy more than $50,000 in gifts to share holiday cheer with those local seniors.

“I’m overwhelmed at the generosity that our community has displayed for people they’ll never meet but care about,” said Besa Executive Director Matthew Goldstein. “What strikes me is that people are looking for genuine opportunities to get involved and be engaged in their community.”

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. By year’s end, Adopt a Senior will have provided nearly $100,000 in gifts to more than 2,000 seniors in five years.

This year, Adopt a Senior was expanded thanks to support from The Columbus Foundation and Big Lots Foundation. 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. Big Lots Foundation signed on as a major supporter by adopting 300 seniors.

Each Secret Santa receives a wish list from a local senior citizen. Secret Santas then purchase and wrap gifts, 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 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


Kristy Eckert, Founder + Chief Strategist, Kristy Eckert Communications