The holiday season is supposed to bring joy and good feelings to all.

But what of those less fortunate who have lost jobs, barely making ends meet or simply have no family members to care whether or not their needs are met?

"Most people aren't aware that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of seniors in every community who have no family and are alone," said Robert Vielee, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Monroe, Pike, Lackawanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties. "We provide not only gifts, but human contact and social interaction to these needy seniors during a time when people take such exchanges for granted. Even the smallest gesture will warm the heart and bring a smile to the face of a senior isolated from holiday festivities."

"Be a Santa to a Senior," has delivered 1.2 million gifts to needy seniors throughout North America in the past six years. It can help some of our seniors in Monroe County this holiday during a time when they may need more of the bare necessities for comfort, safety and survival.

Senior gift requests are expected to be up this holiday season as the economic downturn continues and Social Security benefits fail to keep pace with cost of living increases, according to Vielee.

The area office of the Home Instead Senior Care network, the world's largest provider of non medical home care and companionship for older adults, has joined Western Pocono Community Library and Wesley Enhanced Living, both of Brodheadsville, in addition to other Monroe County organizations, to provide presents to area seniors who are financially needy and/or lonely during the holidays.

Before the holiday season, the participating local non-proftit organizations will identify needy seniors in the community and provide those names to Home Instead Senior Care. Christmas trees feature ornaments with the first names of the seniors and their respective gift requests.

Holiday shoppers can pick up an ornament, buy items on the list and return them unwrapped, along with the ornament attached. Home Instead Senior Care and the Senior Networking Alliance of the Poconos will hold a gift-wrapping party on Dec. 17 at Shawnee Ridge Senior Living Community. Gifts are delivered during the week of Dec. 20 to seniors throughout the community. For information about the program, log on to www.beasantatoasenior.com [1].

Other local organizations are also trying to bring holiday cheer to those in need, like the Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network, as well as all other food pantries. They are asking for donations of food items and cash to help put food on families' tables.

You can also help bring joy to area children by participating in its annual Angel Trees program located throughout the community. Buy a toy for the child's angel ornament you select from a tree and purchase a new toy. Deliver the unwrapped gift to the business where you took the ornament from by its deadline date for distribution.

Creature Comforts Veterinary Services of Saylorsburg has begun a 10,000 Toasty Toes campaign. It hopes to collect at least 1,000 new pairs of white socks, and underwear, for all ages and gender, to be donated to PVEN. These items can be dropped off at Creature Comforts or at Western Pocono Community Library (WPCL).

WPCL is also a location where food items for PVEN can be dropped off which are being collected by Daisy Troop 394 and toiletries to benefit Women's Resources of Monroe County Shelters and Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots.

These are just a few ways for you to make the holiday season a little brighter for others.