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Local organization helping seniors be a little less lonely this holiday season

Just a short phone conversation can make all the difference.
Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 17:54:44-05

PINELLAS CO, Fla- — Due to the Pandemic, hundreds of Bay area senior citizens will be forced to spend Christmas without their family this year.

But a local organization is making sure they're not totally alone. "This year, 2020 has really thrown seniors for a loop," said Ann-Marie Winter.

Winter is the executive director for the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco/Pinellas.

"The pandemic is really having an impact on both their mental and physical health," she said. "they're basically alone all day long."

Officials say they work with about 1,700 seniors locally. AAA is making sure those seniors don't feel alone this holiday season. They've partnered with The Florida Department of Elder Affairs for a new program called " Together Apart. Holidays at Heart." Through the program, volunteers have agreed to be -- like -- phone buddies for seniors living alone.

The phone call is a lifeline," Winter said. "It's 10 minutes or 25 minutes for some. We also find out what they need, and how we can help them during those conversations."

They also have the Silver Santa Program. That's a partnership between AAA and The Better Living for Seniors Pinellas County. They were able to make 700 gift bags for local seniors.

Outreach Director Stacie Bolen said they usually get enough donations for 1,200 bags, but Covid-19 has impacted that as well.

"We're really excited that we were able to get the kind of response that we did get," she said.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or donate to AAA, or if you are a senior in need in Pinellas or Pasco Counties call this number: 1-800-963-5337