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Holiday cheer for homebound seniors

Community: Couple has filled stockings with gifts as an annual philanthropic project for 18 years

Posted: December 19, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 19, 2011 1:30 a.m.

From left, Sonia C. Stodden and Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Supportive Services Director SuzAnn Nelsen display two of the 23 specially-made-and-filled holiday stockings that Stodden and her husband, Phillip, have prepared this season for homebound seniors.

What would the holidays be without goodwill and filled stockings?

Thanks to Sonia C. Stodden and her husband, Phillip, many of our valley’s most challenged and lonely seniors will never have to find out.

For 18 years, the Stoddens have been making holiday stockings and then presenting them to the Senior Center’s Supportive
Services department for delivery to elders in need. Paid for out of the couple’s own pockets, the stockings are filled with night gowns, robes and nonslip stockings (for females), and warm shirts and sweaters (for men) – all with toiletries stuffed into the holiday-festive stocking toes. Prior to the Stoddens adopting this as their own pet holiday project, they created the stockings along with Lutheran Brotherhood, a fraternal church group.

“It just makes us feel good,” Sonia said of the annual philanthropic project. “It’s the holidays and our family is in Montana – and people do things for them there, so we help out here by helping seniors. We are all going to be in the position someday when we need help, and it just feels it’s right to be able to do so.”

Stodden recalled several years back when Senior Center Supportive Services Director Suz-Ann Nelsen gave her some particularly memorable feedback about a stocking recipient.

“A man had written a note to SuzAnn saying this was the first present he had received since wife died five years ago … it was just so moving,”  said Stodden, a certified public accountant. “We knew we wanted to do this every year as it touches so many lives.” 

Indeed, the whimsical, goodie-filled stockings bring cheer to some of our valley’s most challenged seniors, Nelsen said.

“It’s hard enough struggling with age-related health issues, financial problems, and the loneliness and isolation that can accompany older age . . . then factor into that holiday-time, when everyone is supposed to feel ‘merry and bright,’” Nelsen said. “These cheerful stockings evoke tremendous smiles and gratitude in seniors. It means so much to them to know someone cares, and we are so very thankful for the Stoddens’ generosity and thoughtfulness. They are an important part of the holidays here at the Senior Center.”

For further information about the SCV Senior Center’s activities and programs, volunteer opportunities, and its fund-raising arm, the SCV Senior Center Foundation, please call (661) 259-9444. Visit for a complete schedule of events and activities.


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