From Left to Right: Kelly Raley, Patrick Hilwig, David Morgan, the Grinch, Emily Roof, Dawn Orbits, Annette Matthews, and Jennifer Anderson. 

HUGHESVILLE, Md. — As the holiday season rapidly approaches, the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors® (SMAR) has continued the trend of spreading Christmas cheer to local seniors in care facilities. 

The SMAR Senior Santa program was created to help give back to the community, and to help collect gifts for seniors in local care facilities who will not receive visitors over the holiday season. 

Through the program, community members are encouraged to “adopt” seniors from the various facilities, and then shop for the various items on their wish lists. 

Patrick Hilwig passes gifts into a bus heading to the Chesapeake Shores Nursing Center. 

Over the past eight years, SMAR has worked hard to collect gifts for over 2,300 local seniors in care facilities. 

This year, SMAR successfully collected over 550 gifts for over 534 local seniors. The estimated value of the gifts collected this year was $30,163, surpassing the previous record set in 2021. 

Barbara Burton, the activity director at The Hermitage at Solomons, smiles as her vehicle is packed with gifts for her residents. 

On December 19, members of SMAR’s Community Relations Committee convened at SMAR’s office in Hughesville, Maryland, to help assist in the distribution of gifts. The group was met by representatives of almost all care facilities that day to help load the hundreds of wrapped presents into cars, trucks and even a couple of buses. 

“This program is one of our favorites every year because it really shows how much our community loves to give back,” SMAR Community Relations Committee Chair Patrick Hilwig said. “Just seeing how excited these people get picking up the gifts for all the seniors lets us know that we are doing something good. We continue to break our own records every year by helping more people, and I am sure the ambition of our committee will only grow this program more in the coming years.” 

Darlene Praylow, the activities director at the Calvert County Nursing Home, stops to wave while her van is packed with gifts. 

Several of the participating care facilities included the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, St. Mary’s Nursing Center, Calvert County Nursing Home, Genesis Complete Care, Charleston Senior Center, Sage Point, Chesapeake Shores, Fenwick Landing, Assisted Living at Hawkins Gate, Solomons Rehab & Care Center, and The Hermitage at Solomons. 

All gifts are expected to be distributed to the residents over the next week at various internal holiday gatherings and by individual distribution. 

Darlene Praylow, the activities director at the Calvert County Nursing Home, thanks the committee for their hard work collecting gifts for the seniors at her facility and across the region.

“Realtors are some of the most giving people in our community, and this program is a testament to that,” SMAR 2022-2023 President Michael Funk said. “We truly couldn’t do what we do here every year without the wonderful support of our 2,000 members, our association’s staff, and even the members of the general public who were able to step up and help. This program compels people from across Southern Maryland to give back in unimaginable ways, and it is a wonderful thing to see.” 

The impact of this program is clearly impactful to the many facilities that participate, as many of the activity managers who came to collect gifts would get emotional while describing their gratitude. 

From Left to Right: Annette Matthews, Kim Robinson, Emily Roof, Kelly Raley, Darlene Praylow, Patrick Hilwig, and Tiffany Keys.

“SMAR does this all the time, and we can’t do it without everyone,” Darlene Praylow, an activities director at the Calvert County Nursing Home, told the committee while thankfully picking up the gifts. 

SMAR is looking forward to continuing to grow the Senior Santa program in 2023. 

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