University teams with community to make holidays happier for senior citizens

Santa delivers gifts to seniors during the annual Senior Gift Run celebration
Santa Claus delivers gifts to Veronica Foster, left, and Sheila Streeter during the annual Senior Holiday Gift Run celebration at the Miller Senior Center in Hamden.

Dec. 18, 2013 - The spirit of giving filled the Miller Senior Center as Quinnipiac University and the Hamden community collaborated to make the holidays a little happier for senior citizens.

The fourth annual Hamden Senior Holiday Gift Run was held Dec. 18 at the senior center, 2901 Dixwell Ave. The event was a collaboration between Quinnipiac's AM 1220 WQUN, the center, Arden House, Quinnipiac Bank & Trust, Lifetime Care at Home and VNA Community Healthcare.

"In terms of community involvement, this has been our best event," said Steve Savino, WQUN's assistant general manager and one of the main organizers of the gift run.

Student ambassadors from Hamden Middle School joined the senior center's Miller Melodies group to sing Christmas carols. The seventh-graders also presented the seniors in attendance with handmade cards and $87 they collected from a bake sale.

"It's nice for the youth to be with the elderly to entertain them and let them know we care and that we're here to support them," said Hamden Middle School assistant principal Barbara Perrotti.

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson was also on hand to lend his support.

"It's the season of giving," he said. "What we try to do is remember everything the seniors gave to us. We're really happy that WQUN and Steve Savino have turned this event into one of our greatest annual events. It's nice to give a little bit back. It's a day of great smiles."

Following Jackson's speech, the students helped Santa hand out gifts bags packed with non-perishable food, coats, gloves, hats, scarfs, blankets, gift cards and toiletries that had been collected through donations at various Hamden locations.

Suzanne Burbage, elderly services coordinator for the town of Hamden, said the gift run benefitted homebound senior citizens as well as seniors at Miller, the VNA, the Partnership Center, the Clelian Center and Davenport/Dunbar Housing. Burbage said the gift run delivers the message to seniors that "We care, you're important, you matter and you're part of our family here in Hamden."

"They really look forward to it," she added.

Senior center members Sheila Streeter and Veronica Foster sat together at the gift run, enjoying the gifts, music and a nice meal.

"Christmas is all about being with your family and friends," Streeter said. "It's about having a good time."

Foster has yet to miss a gift run.

"It means so much to me," she said. "It makes my day."