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With Halloween barely over and Thanksgiving still around the bend, two groups from Kings Point in Sun City Center have banded together to make Christmas better for people living in Benton House assisted living center and nursing home.
Jane Scully didn’t send me the email about this project to brag. She and the others involved hope that hearing about it will inspire others to do the same thing at nursing homes and assisted living centers all over South County.
|Penny Flecter Photo
Sue Corbett, Betty Moore, Jane Scully and Betty Maxwell of the Radison I Homeowner’s Association in Kings Point, Sun City Center, prepare Christmas bags for people in Benton House assisted living center and nursing home. Gifts include toiletries, socks and other items family and friends often forget to supply.|
The idea to shop and prepare bags for “guests” at Benton House was born three years ago when Betty Moore suggested it to members of her homeowner’s association, Radison I. With only 67 homes in the group, and only a few of those regularly active in community projects, Betty said they decided on Benton House because it was small enough that they could buy something for everyone.
Now Radison II homeowners have also joined in.
The women begin by asking for donations of $5 or more from the homeowners in their respective associations. Then the “shoppers” go out, hitting the Dollar Tree for festive ribbons, paper and bags and several area discount stores for combs, cards, socks, personal toiletries and stuffed toys.
“The stuffed toys are always a big hit because the people can give them as gifts to their grandchildren and great grandchildren when they can’t get out to buy them anything,” Jane told me. “You should see their eyes light up when they see them.”
Sue Corbett is leading this year’s project. She suggests that people who want to do something similar contact the activities director at the facility of their choice and find out what things would please their residents most. Sometimes, they’ll also point out a specific need for a particular person, especially for someone who gets few (if any) visitors. This year, one woman really needed nightgowns, Jane said.
“We get more than we give,” Sue said, explaining about how the gifts are given. A jovial celebration is always planned. Last year, for instance, Betty dressed in an elf costume and her husband took her photograph with every resident. All the residents were brought into the common room for Christmas carols led by the choir from Ruskin’s United Methodist Church. People with memory problems who don’t usually speak sometimes start singing the familiar songs and remember every word, Jane said.
This year, shoppers were Nevis Bradich, Helen Stein and Sue Corbett. The gifts they bought that the women later wrapped will be delivered Dec. 12. Meanwhile, Radison I plans to hold its annual Christmas luncheon at Cypress Creek the day before the gifts are delivered.
It was definitely fun watching the women pour out the gifts on the tables and begin the art of fancy wrapping with holiday paper and colored bows. Knowing there’s still plenty of time if others want to get involved, I wanted to write this up right away. There are all kinds of choices individuals and groups can make, and if they can’t supply a whole facility, maybe they can choose one wing or floor. By contacting the activities director first, people can be assured they won’t duplicate their efforts.
An idea put forth by Betty Moore three years ago has now become a tradition, and hopefully, will now begin to spread.
While the church and civic groups usually concentrate on gift-giving for needy children and putting together food baskets for hungry families, the frail elderly who cannot go home for the holidays are often forgotten.
So thanks Betty, for a great idea.
*Perhaps you have something you’d like to share. Or maybe you’d rather tell the community about your favorite charity or cause: or sound off about something you think needs change. That’s what “Over Coffee” is about. It really doesn’t matter whether we actually drink any coffee or not (although I probably will). It’s what you have to say that’s important. E-mail me any time and suggest a meeting place. No matter what’s going on, I’m usually available to share just one more cup.
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