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Local Santa, Mrs. Claus gift Valentine's Day blankets to isolated seniors in nursing homes

Posted February 11, 2021 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2021 6:46 a.m. EST

Many nursing home residents are now warmer after special Valentine gifts from a local Santa and Mrs. Claus also known as Jesse and Debbie Cann.

For the Canns, every Valentine's Day is just as special as Christmas. It’s when they give beautiful blankets to nursing home residents.

This year, not even Santa Claus is allowed inside nursing homes due to the pandemic.

"Obviously, we are sad that we can’t go into the nursing homes and actually wrap these blankets around the residents ourselves," said Debbie Cann.

Handmade blankets for seniors a Valentine's Day tradition

COVID-19 also caused many volunteers to bow out this year. With the Valentine's Day blanket tradition on the line, Cann called out to various ladies’ groups.

"I had about 40 ladies, and these are folks I never knew before, that contacted me and said, 'I would love to help with your ministry,'" said Cann.

The volunteers set a new record with 550 blankets ready to be delivered. Jesse "Santa" Cann said, "We even had children make blankets for us."

The Canns say each blanket is special because of who will own them. "They are hugged and loved and prayed over before they ever leave the North Pole," said Debbie Cann.

The Canns' favorite moment is watching the residents’ reactions, even if this year, they can only watch through a window pane due to COVID-19 precautions.

"You can just tell by the smile on their face the love that they feel when they get that blanket," Debbie Cann said. "They put their hands up on the window, and they kiss us through the window, and you know they are so lonely. They are just so lonely."

The residents also receive Valentine's Day cards written and decorated by children. Mr. and Mrs. Claus never forget the health care workers at the 12 facilities they visit. They always receive a bags of chocolate kisses for their hard work serving the needs of their residents.

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