Employees of Guardian Angel Home Health are spearheading an effort to spread giving trees to businesses around San Juan County.
The trees have tags that community members can pick up on behalf of a gift recipient. The donor can then buy a gift and donate it to Guardian Angel, which will distribute presents to recipients.
The program is reminiscent of Toys for Tots, but this one aims to help seniors who may have outlived their family and friends, and may be homebound or living in a nursing home. Others live far away from family.
"There are so many seniors and grandparents that never get gifts," said Guardian Angel owner Dixie Thompson. "I decided this year we should do a grandparents tree and give back to the grandparents in the community."
More than 300 seniors in Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield could receive gifts through the program. Suggested gifts include hats, gloves, blankets, necklaces and watches.
The program is off to a strong start, said Katie Yarbrough, a marketing specialist at Guardian Angel.
"It's really having a great, positive response," she said. "One of our trees has half its tags gone already, which is fantastic."
Gifts must be donated by Dec. 19 so they can be distributed by Christmas.
Participating businesses include Smith's, Mesa Family Practice, Mystical Goddess Salon, Coffee House Deli, Pinon Family Pharmacy, Kare Pharmacies in Aztec and Guardian Angel Home Health.
Organizers hope the program can bring company to some socially isolated seniors. San Juan County in 2011 had 13,739 residents age 65 or older, including 1,545 residents 85 or older, the Census Bureau reported.