You couldn’t miss the “Secret Santa” delivery team at Regency Redmond last Wednesday — the group dressed in cheerful holiday attire to deliver gifts personalized for low-income seniors at the long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. Though they couldn’t enter the building, their efforts and enthusiasm certainly brought a smile to the faces of many seniors.

“You have made Christmas for these people,” said Kim Cohen, activity director at Regency Redmond. “I was so scared this year that we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Secret Santa is an annual tradition of the Assistance League of Bend’s Senior Caring program. The Assistance League sends out request forms each year to 17 long-term care facilities in Central Oregon, including four in Redmond, and asks facility representatives to speak with their residents for personalized gift information.

This year there were more than 370 requests — a 40 percent increase from previous years, said Deanna Craig, president of the Bend branch of the philanthropic organization. The requests were simple ones: “A lap blanket, slippers, a calendar,” said Craig.

The Assistance League members provided many of the gifts as well as partnering with other community organizations, businesses, individuals, book clubs and churches, said Craig. “It was a community effort.”

“It was a pleasure to fill (the requests) and was fun to do so,” said Craig. “It’s a little bit of cheering up,” in the midst of the isolation that many seniors have been feeling during the pandemic, she said. “A little bit goes a long way.”

The year has been “a harder one than any other year,” for the staff and residents at Regency Redmond, said Cohen. “And I’ve watched our residents’ psyche go up and way down and then kind of start climbing then we went back down.”

“We can’t make it without your supplies you give all year round,” Cohen said to the Assistance League members who were dropping off the gifts. “These people are so thankful for everything.”

The Assistance League of Bend was started as a local branch of the all-volunteer national nonprofit organization 26 years ago, said Craig. Their year-round programs benefit children and adults facing poverty, homelessness and cancer.

For more information about the

Assistance League of Bend, go online to

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