Highline Place residents and staff pack gifts for Operation Christmas Child. (Photo credit: Highline Place)

During the holidays, it is easy to take the little things for granted. A simple holiday gift might not be in the cards for some, but residents at Highline Place, an Anthem Memory Care community in Littleton, CO, worked to change that situation by packaging shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.

Being a former Operation Christmas Child recipient as a military child, Highline Place Life Engagement Director Annalise Wasberg is especially familiar with the program’s impact and sees it as a way to “pay it forward.” 

“No matter where we’re at in life, I think it’s important to give back in any way we can,” Wasberg said. “We have a lot of volunteers that love to just come in and sit with our residents that need that attention. We have so many residents that need that help, so it’s important to give back any way we can, because we have those resources and the capability to do that.”

The residents packed 15 shoeboxes full of toys and other basic essentials and delivered the boxes to South Suburban Church. The supplies included stuffed animals, puzzles, books, coloring supplies and much more. Since 1993, more than 209 million children in more than 170 countries have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. According to Wasberg, because of recent COVID-19 surges in the community, the initiative was a way for residents to interact with younger generations from a safe distance. 

“We haven’t been able to have a lot of our intergenerational stuff the past month, so it’s good to still be able to do something and bring that light to their face,” Wasberg said. “I don’t know what it is, but kids just do so much for our senior living residents. Some of our lower-functioning residents have baby clothes that we will give them, and they’ll just hold baby clothes all day because it just lights them up.” 

They will be making some children very happy over the holidays, but the residents received a nice gift of their own: a chance to make a difference in their own community without having to leave it.

“It’s important for even memory care residents to have that feeling of purpose and to give back during the holidays,” Wasberg said. “Even if we just collect one box or make one box, at least we made one child smile. Some of our residents have worked with kids in the past as teachers and educators, so they really just understood the assignment.”

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