Area seniors receive early Christmas gifts (w/video)

Mary Vasquez felt "like a million bucks" after receiving her gifts from the Be a Santa to a Senior program Wednesday morning.

Vasquez pulled a fluffy robe from her gift bag.

"You know I always get cold," she said to social worker Katie Sciba of AARN Health Services. "I'm so happy, so thrilled and so blessed."

The 77-year-old home-bound woman was one of more than 80 senior citizens who received gifts in the program's inaugural year.

"Some of them only asked for one thing, like a blanket, but the Victoria community was so generous, most of them got three or four gifts," said Rita Williams of AARN , one of the program's organizers.

Home Instead Senior Care and the Community Action Committee of Victoria also participated in the program, along with area merchants, other nonprofit organizations and individual volunteers.

"We had collection boxes in Victoria at all the Sonics and at Wal-Mart," said Williams. "The response was overwhelming."

Shoppers could select an individual senior's ornament with gift requests and buy specifically for that senior.

Sonic also donated the bags to put the gifts in, and the bags were decorated by Industrial Elementary School students.

Stephanie Niles of Home Instead Senior Care said that in addition to seniors in their homes, enough donations were received to assist with gifts at three nursing homes in Victoria, three in Cuero, Hospice of South Texas and the two senior citizens centers in Victoria.

"It's been amazing," Niles said.

Vasquez was amazed, too.

"Oh, how sweet," she said, as she read a Christmas card inserted in the gift bag by an Industrial student. "I don't know how to thank y'all.

"God bless all of you. Have a blessed, Merry Christmas."