by Photo by Sarah Berjan

St. Paul’s Plaza Senior Living Community hosted a Motor Mingle drive-thru and blanket drive for seniors on Dec.2, which featured holiday lights, a Christmas tree contest, carolers, a visit from Mr. and Mrs.Claus, and treats. 

Guests donated a blanket to St. Paul’s Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly Seniors (PACE) which serves low-income senior participants in San Diego. A record breaking 600 blankets were donated last year by residents. With nearly 1,200 participants currently enrolled into PACE, St. Paul aims to double the number of donations. 

“These blankets may be the only gift these seniors get at Christmas time, so it is important for us to collect as many as we can,” St. Paul’s communication specialist Kelly Lapadula said. 

The blanket drive was traditionally held as a “mix and mingle” event. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, St. Paul’s blanket drive transitioned into a drive-thru style event for a second year to ensure safe and interactive festivities for the holiday season. 

“The drive-thru event was such a big hit last year. It really brought more people from the community to enjoy the lights and donate blankets,” Lapadula  said. “This event is just a time for us to enjoy the holidays with lights, music, carolers. We’ve had a lot of kids come through with their families. It’s been fun and a great way to kick off the holidays.”

St. Paul’s aims to raise awareness and compassion for seniors as the pandemic illuminated and further exacerbated growing health concerns seniors face. In the U.S. the population age 65 and older numbered over 57 million in 2021, representing approximately 17 percent of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults aged 65 and older are at increased risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. As of May 2021, the pandemic has claimed the lives of nearly 450,000 seniors across the country and affected countless others. 

“COVID has put a huge spotlight on this industry in senior care and the senior population. Before, it was out of sight and out of mind. We are trying to bring that to the forefront. Seniors are the largest population in the county right now so we need to make sure we have enough caregivers, services and providers to support this population. As we do that, we are seeing a lot more people to support seniors during the pandemic,” Lapadula said. 

Pandemic induced social isolation limited the contact older adults had with their communities. According to the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation, one in three seniors ages 65 and older live alone in San Diego county, many of whom are “elder orphans” without family or friends nearby to care for them. The World Health Organization acknowledged social isolation as a public health crisis. 

“Some of the PACE workers really took the time during blanket distributions to make sure it was a special experience for participants. A lot of these people have been so isolated because of the pandemic, that they hadn't seen anyone in a really long time so just that interaction alone is really special for them,” Lapadula said.

St. Paul's Senior Services is a mission-driven San Diego non-profit and full-service retirement provider, offering Independent, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing communities, child and senior day care programs. St. Paul’s PACE supports seniors so they can continue to live independently at home by providing in-home care, transportation, and personalized medical services. Seniors who are over 55 years of age, with chronic medical conditions that make it difficult to live at home, qualify

For more information on St. Paul’s PACE, visit  or call 1(833) PACE NOW. 


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