Gathering and giving

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Pat Williams, Angel Tree program coordinator for Crittenton Services, left, and Morningside resident Eunice Tuthill wrap gifts for Crittenton kids at the retirement community’s recent “wrap party.”
Pat Williams, Angel Tree program coordinator for Crittenton Services, left, and Morningside resident Eunice Tuthill wrap gifts for Crittenton kids at the retirement community’s recent “wrap party.”

As 2016 comes to a close, senior living residents and staff have been donating talents and time as well as enjoying holiday gatherings.

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Residents and staff of Morningside in Fullerton, CA, purchased and wrapped more than 150 gifts for abused and neglected children and teens through their sixth annual Angel Tree gift drive for Fullerton-based Crittenton Services. Crittenton Services provides family and mental health services, youth programming, foster care and adoption programs throughout Southern California.

This year's “wishes” included items for children ranging from infants to older teens and included everything from warm baby mittens and knitted caps for the youngest kids to Legos, science kits, blankets, scooters and new jeans for older children. Morningside's participation in the annual gift drive is one of the most popular holiday programs among the residents and staff, according to Melody McFadden, director of accounting for Morningside and organizer of the event.

“We have outstanding response within our community every year, but this year the wish list was fulfilled in a matter of a few days,” McFadden said. “Our hope is that each Crittenton kid receives at least one special gift this holiday season. We enjoy our partnership with the Crittenton staff and volunteers, and do all we can to help provide a little joy to so many lonely and abandoned children each year.”

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Festivities at Jefferson's Ferry lifecare community in South Setauket, NY, kicked off when residents decorated the community tree in the community's theater, which hosts parties and other activities, including an employee party, a chorale performance and various holiday activities for residents.

The employee party gives residents an opportunity to express their appreciation to staff members. Residents donate to an employee gift fund, from which monies are distributed amongst the staff. Resident Ernie Rositzke presides over the festivities as Santa Claus. His white beard and twinkly eyes make him a natural. Many staff members bring their children to visit with Santa.

Pictured: Recently gathering to decorate the community Christmas tree, left to right: Cecile Sparhuber, Ellen Ballin, Joan Neuls, Nancy Sabbatino, Margo Rosenka, Marie Galioto and Barbara Steubenrauch.

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Members of the woodshop at Charlestown retirement community made 143 wooden toys that were delivered Dec. 8 to the U.S. Marines for its Toys for Tots project. The toys will be given to underprivileged children for the holiday season.

Charlestown residents made the toys in their woodshop starting in April. They include pull toys, puzzles, savings banks, blocs, cars and trucks, and cradles with hand-sewn dolls.

Charlestown is an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, MD.

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Residents and staff at Covenant Retirement Communities in 10 states packed and donated almost 1,300 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, coordinated by humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse.

People at CRC's 12 continuing care retirement / life plan communities and corporate office participated in the charity drive by donating items or organizing shopping trips to purchase items needed to fill the shoeboxes. Communities held packing parties to assemble and prepare shoeboxes for delivery to nearby drop-off points. From there, the shoeboxes were delivered to Minneapolis, where they joined millions of other shoeboxes that will be shipped globally to children living in poverty or affected by war, disease or natural disaster.

Pictured: Joanne Tvedt, left, and Margaret England, residents at The Samarkand in Santa Barbara, CA, helped pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

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Rosewood Healthcare & Rehab Center hosted a “meet and greet” with Santa for residents and staff members and their families.

“This year we went in an updated direction with our decorating and made it more simplistic and home-like for Christmas,” said Life Enrichment Director Samantha Delsandro, adding that the center had LED candles and a train near the main Christmas tree. “The residents have really enjoyed the changes,” she said.

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Dozens of residents of Stoneridge Creek made handmade gifts, from wine racks to birdhouses, for family and friends, in the community's woodworking shop.

Throughout the year, the residents who frequent the shop also make, repair and replace items for more than 600 residents living in the Pleasanton, CA, senior living community. Their services are completely free.

Most of the tools that fill the shelves were donated by residents who wanted a home for their favorites after moving in. Resident Arnold Joyal is the man behind the shop, and he welcomes anyone who wants to join the club, regardless of their experience or age.

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Older adults living at the Residence at South Windsor Farms , an LCB Senior Living community in South Windsor, CT, enjoyed a concert by the local Manchester High School Santa Band.

“We took pictures of our residents who played in their high school bands with a band member who played the same instrument,” said Resident Engagement Director Heather Wood. “Not only did we have an awesome concert; we had a great time connecting with the students.”

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Residents from Spring Hills Lake Mary Assisted Living in Lake Mary, FL, were invited to the Lake Mary Historical Society to decorate a Christmas tree in mid-November.

The residents created their own ornaments before they went and once there decorated one of many trees that will be on display.

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Those living at the Residence of Cedar Dell, an LCB Senior Living community in North Dartmouth, MA, enjoyed a holiday outing to a vineyard and winery in Rhode Island, where they toured the winery, had lunch and a wine tasting and shopped for gifts for loved ones. “The residents had a wonderful time,” Senior Executive Director Lindsay Gordon said.

Residents also enjoyed a holiday handbell performance by the Southcoast Ringers, an area “Second Half” club of older adults who volunteer and share their talents with the local community. “The residents enjoyed hearing their favorite Christmas tunes performed in this unique way,” Gordon said.

Pictured: Janet, Margo and Grace visit the winery gift shop.

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The residents of La Costa Glen retirement community in Carlsbad, CA, recently sponsored a holiday toy drive in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Camp Pendleton.

They filled eight large boxes of toys and donated more than $17,000 to the Pendleton Rotary Community Service Fund for the purchase of personalized gifts desired by the children of deployed or wounded Marines.

Pictured: Marines Tyler Sanford, left, and Chandler Dunn flank Linda Sundram from the Camp Pendleton Rotary Club and La Costa Glen resident Jean Davis as they prepare to load toys for delivery to Camp Pendleton.

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Members of the Park Plaza “Yak & Yarn” club in Orange, CA, are knitting hats to keep area homeless individuals warm.

More than 500 hand-crafted caps recently were distributed to area nonprofit organizations such as the Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange County Ronald McDonald House, Mary's Kitchen and The Salvation Army of Orange County.

“While we enjoy being creative, each of us has a passion for giving back to our community,” said resident Gerry Webb. “Before coming to Park Plaza, I was a foster mother for 19 children, and it always warms my heart to know that I can use the motherly skills that I learned to continue to give back to children in need.”

Former Red Cross volunteer Alice Otsea said that she always has been passionate about helping others and was happy to find a group of women who feel the same. “There will always be those who are less fortunate than others, so it is wonderful that Park Plaza supports clubs like Yak & Yarn,” she said.

Along with this recent holiday donation, Webb, Otsea and their fellow club members will continue to give back to additional organizations in the new year.

“We are so proud of these residents,” Executive Director Bruce Hoggan said. “Here at Park Plaza, we encourage our residents to find activities that they love doing and that keep them active, but we also find it so heart-warming when they decide to take it a step further to assist others.”

Park Plaza is a Kisco Senior Living community.

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Affinity Living Group sent 175 care packages to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Residents and staff members collected snacks and candies, toiletries, magazines and books, games and more to fill the packages, and they were invited to include letters of appreciation as well.

Affinity has created care packages for Armed Forces members for the past five years, but this year's total was the highest number of packages ever collected. “I'm proud to see how far this program has grown over just a few years,” Director of Employee Relations Brad Coley said. “Our employees have really embraced the cause.”

The tradition began when the daughter of Affinity CEO Charlie Trefzger served in the Army in Iraq. “Having a daughter in the 82nd Airborne provided a unique perspective on how much every soldier sacrifices during their service,” Trefzger said. “We wanted to show our appreciation for the troops and give back.”

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Edgewood Summit café manager Bill Dodd (pictured), assisted by residents, spread joy by feeding some of the neediest people in Charleston, WV.

For the past five years, Dodd has spent every Monday preparing, organizing and helping people at Manna Meals. The local organization helps to feed 250 people a day.

Over Thanksgiving, Bill and his friends at Edgewood Summit donated several turkeys to the organization and Edgewood Summit was looking forward to being involved at Christmas, too.

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