The holidays can be a lonely time for nursing home residents, but last week the Tyler Police Department and other local first responders answered the call.

From a ReinDog, a dog dressed as a reindeer, to Tyler PD’s Blue Santa and Animal Control “releasing” their latest catch of stuffed animals, the Silver Santa event was a big hit at Reunion Plaza Senior Care Center.

Admissions and Marketing Director Trisha Leggon said the event had employees beaming as they watched residents who rarely get out and join the fun.

“This is a very special event for our residents here today,” she said. “Some of our residents don’t get a lot of visitors, so it makes them feel very special, very loved and of course it brings a lot of joy and a lot of smiles and laughter to their faces.”

Zelda the ReinDog flitted from resident to resident, showering them with affection and inspecting their new stuffed animal friends.

“My name is Helen and this is a unicorn!” Helen Moss exclaimed after getting a present from Santa.

Community Response Officer Chuck Boyce said this year was the first for the event, and it was taking place at multiple locations this week. The Silver Santa event is set to become a tradition in the run-up to the Tyler Police Department’s annual Blue Santa event.

“We’re trying to help them create some good Christmas memories,” Boyce said. “Just having a good time with some of these folks and giving them something to look forward to next year.”

Resident Barbara Holiness said they were having a blast.

“This is fun, this is so uplifting and I stay joyful getting into the mood of the Christmas feeling,” Holiness said. “We haven’t done anything in quite awhile.”

Holiness said she was so appreciative of the work Tyler PD and other local first responders put into the event.

“This is great, you see how they care and love you,” she said.

The annual Blue Santa event is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Walmart at 5050 Troup Highway.

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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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