The giving season is upon us and the first thought is usually gifts for kids, not seniors. A Billings nonprofit, Big Sky Senior Services, is campaigning to change that by giving gift cards to senior citizens this Christmas.
Joe Frank is 93 years old. He loves to dance the polka, woodwork in his shop, and cook breakfast outside.
“So I’m still a young pup, you know,” Frank said Wednesday from his central Billings home.
Thanks to Big Sky Senior Services, Frank can live in the comfort of his own home despite his age.
“That’s one of the things I told my kids. Don’t ever put me in a nursing home,” Frank said.
Frank has been a client of Big Sky Senior Services for 20 years now. The group is committed to supporting seniors living independently and safely. This holiday season, Big Sky is looking for donations for their campaign, Empty Stockings.
“It’s been a way for us to give a small gift to those seniors that sometimes don’t have any family to give them a gift throughout the year,” said Tyler Amundson, executive director of Big Sky.
Big Sky Senior Services is campaigning for donations to give $25 gift cards to over 400 clients. These clients are senior citizens living at home by themselves.
“They’re on very limited incomes, a lot of our seniors, some of them make less than $1,000 a month,” said Big Sky development manager Val Young.
Not only are these senior citizens living on limited incomes, isolation is also a huge factor, especially during the holiday season.
“I think for us and the people we serve, it’s overcoming isolation. So we see a lot of seniors that, either their kids don’t live here in town, or their families aren’t even existing anymore so they just don’t have good connection,” said Amundson.
Big Sky asked their seniors to make a wish list so that the public could see what their gift cards will be used for. For many of them, their list consists of simple items.
“Sometimes it can mean the clothes they’ve been needing, or it can mean some food items that they really want for the season,” Amundson said.
Some seniors have other requests.
“Henry wants an American flag. He’s a veteran and that’s what he would do with his gift card,” Young said.
As for Joe Frank, he thinks it’s a wonderful idea. As a man of simple taste, he doesn’t need much this holiday season.
“You know I got everything else that I pretty much need, but food is a good item for me,” said Frank.
You can make a donation to Big Sky Senior Services by visiting their website Big Sky Senior Services.