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NHA Giving Tree program a hit

By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

Residents at the Needham Housing Authority (NHA) welcomed a new holiday tradition into their
hearts last Wednesday, December 21, thanks to Resident Services Coordinator Laurie Blake.
Blake and the NHA introduced the Giving Tree program to residents this year. It is a project
created to bring joy to residents within senior living communities, as the holiday season can be
difficult for isolated and lonely older or disabled adults.

Prior to the gathering on December 21, Needham Housing residents provided a wishlist item,
between $20-$30, which they would like to receive for the holidays. The staff at the Housing
Authority then teamed up with students at High Rock School, located across the street from the
NHA residency. Students from the school received the wishlist items created by their neighbors
from across the road, and transcribed them onto ornaments.

After the creation of the ornaments, local businesses, who had partnered with the Housing
Authority, decked the Christmas trees within their spaces with these decorations. From there,
Needham locals took it upon themselves to select one of these trinkets and purchase the
desired item written on it, returning it unwrapped for the recipient.

On Monday, December 19, Blake hosted a holiday wrapping party at the Senior Center to
package the gifts prior to the event; seniors were giving back to seniors this holiday season.
At 1 p.m. on the 21st, an estimated fifty residents arrived in the Center at the Heights common
room, which was adorned with holiday themed decorations on each table and a stunning
Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts. Attendees enjoyed holiday music and company among
their neighbors while they eagerly waited to receive their holiday gifts.

Sixth graders from the High Rock School, along with their chaperones, also joined the festivities.
The students led in singing Christmas carols along with the Housing Authority tenants, while
everyone awaited the arrival of Santa.

Santa, played by Interim Executive Director Steve Merritt, arrived shortly thereafter. On by one,
the High Rock students passed along gifts to Santa before hand delivering the presents to the
recipient. Residents delighted in opening their gifts, spending time with the children, and
enjoying a visit with Santa Claus.

Tenants who were unable to make the holiday party, meanwhile, had their gifts delivered by the
Housing Authority staff after the festivities had concluded.

Everyone enjoyed pizza and salad for lunch after they had received their gifts, while they were
serenaded by the Christmas songs of local band Unplugged.

“Laurie has really touched people’s hearts since she has been here,” Merritt shared, which was
plain to see by the smiles painted upon the faces of the residents at the Needham Housing

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