Hundreds of seniors receive gifts for Christmas

350 senior citizens in Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton Counties who live alone and don't get Christmas gifts were given gifts Wednesday through the "No Senior Without Christmas" program.

Volunteers from the community, local law enforcement agencies, and fire departments packed boxes with items like canned goods, shampoo, paper towel and dishwasher soap.

"These are truly senior citizens that have contributed to our society but unfortunately they don't have the means to be able to buy these products," said Traci Ruiz, a Lieutenant with the Lansing Police Department and the Chair of "No Senior Without Christmas."

The event also gives homebound seniors the opportunity to connect with local law enforcement.

"The biggest impact is when law enforcement and fire personnel deliver those boxes to our seniors in need because most of them are crying. They wait for this delivery and it's a time of year when we're not responding to a 9/11 call. Oftentimes that's how we meet people. It's true joy when the first responders can actually talk with people and visit with them," said Ruiz.

Planning for the event starts in January or February each year.

"We have to ask for a lot of donations from local businesses and that process starts early on. We also take donations from individuals. One thing that's kinda hard sometimes is we need 350 of whatever we get," said Michelle Traill-Crosser, the Secretary for Tri-County TRIAD.

Financial donations help Tri-County TRIAD buy the remaining items that are needed.

The event has been taking place since the year 2000 and Ruiz says it has grown as the need has grown.

"We started with 20 Meijer paper bags with four crocheted items. In 2009 we grew to 200 boxes, in 2010 we grew to 300 and this year we're doing a record number. While business growth is good, the unfortunate part is that many seniors need us," said Ruiz.

Trail-Crosser says seeing people come out to help the community is one of the best parts of the event.

"It's very gratifying to see the willingness in the community to step in and help and to get here this early in the morning," said Trail-Crosser.