Besa launching annual Adopt a Senior on Nov. 1, aiming to provide Secret Santas to over 1,500 Central Ohio senior citizens

Columbus, Ohio — Columbus nonprofit Besa will kick off Adopt a Senior, its annual holiday gift drive that invites thousands of people to become Secret Santas for senior citizens in need, on Nov. 1. During a year that has been especially tough on older populations who have been isolated due to COVID, the event aims to bring joy to over 1,500 senior citizens with over $85,000 in gifts.

The program began in 2012, when Besa rallied a handful of Secret Santas to buy $240 in gifts for 26 senior citizens through Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging’s Holiday Gift Drive. Since then, Besa’s Adopt a Senior drive has evolved into the nonprofit’s largest annual project. Over its eight years, the program has enlisted thousands of Secret Santas who have provided more than $350,000 in gifts to more than 6,800 seniors. While it continues supporting seniors through the COAAA program, it also supports seniors at At Home By High, Clintonville Resource Center, Gladden Community House and National Church Residences.

“I wish each volunteer knew the impact of their gifts,” said Cindy Farson, Executive Director of Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging. “Besa provides this bright spot to our clients each year. In 2020, a time when even meals and services are provided from a distance and isolation is the norm, these gifts will reassure them that people care.”

Community partners helping make this program possible include Big Lots Foundation, Humana and the Dear, Columbus Fund of The Columbus Foundation.

Last year, the Columbus community — from individuals to businesses to elementary classrooms — adopted every senior on Besa’s list by noon on the morning the project went live.

“There has been a lot of uncertainty and heartache this year, especially for the oldest and most vulnerable in our community,” said Besa CEO Matthew Goldstein. “But we also know there are thousands of helpers who want to spread light and love. And that is exactly what this program does. It harnesses the helpers to spread love to a group that really needs it and really appreciates it.”

Volunteers can sign up to be Secret Santas beginning Nov. 1 at

Each Secret Santa receives a wish list from a local senior citizen. Secret Santas then purchase and wrap gifts. This year, Secret Santas will bring their gifts to Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging on December 6 to make a contactless delivery to Besa elves. Each partner agency will then safely distribute gifts to their seniors.

Besa is a Columbus nonprofit dedicated to supporting those who need it most by connecting people and businesses with local charities, from food pantries to homeless shelters. Besa offers a portal at where Columbus residents can easily find and register for volunteer opportunities citywide; it hosts drives for various nonprofits; and it helps corporate partners manage and enhance their philanthropic efforts. For more, visit

Kristy Eckert, Founder + Chief Strategist, Kristy Eckert Communications 614.746.2787




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