In the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, the Council on Aging of West Florida distributed $31,314 worth of gifts to 791 clients across Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The crafts, blankets, clothing, decorations, household goods and hygiene products were given to the Council on Aging by 43 area donors and organizations, including Ascend Performance Materials, Navy Federal Credit Union, IMS ExpertServices, ERA Legacy Realty and more.
This marks one of the most successful years for the Council on Aging%u2019s annual drive to give presents to homebound aging adults in the area. Each year, the Council will begin receiving gifts in early to mid-November before distributing them at Senior Dining Sites, The Retreat, and other distribution points across the two-county region. Some volunteers, like those from Temple Beth El Pensacola and Navy base-workers, even elected to play Santa Claus and go on dedicated gift-delivery routes, spreading joy to all they encountered.
"Seniors are neglected more than any other group," said Debbie Manning, who hand-made many gifts this year. "During Christmas especially, kids are taken care of through Toys for Tots and other programs. Seniors are the least represented group."
In addition to the presents that delivered holiday cheer to hundreds of aging adults, the Council on Aging helped distribute hundreds of blankets and dozens of heaters to senior citizens who are particularly vulnerable to the cold weather this time of year.
"I've seen moms with children, heads of companies, and retirees alike go out of their way to purchase that special gift they knew would warm the heart of someone they have never even met," said Tricia Dixon, volunteer coordinator for the Council on Aging. "For some elderly adults, these are the only presents they receive. Many have family who no longer live here or have passed on, so it brings them a special kind of joy as they unwrap items meant especially for them. It reminds them that we still care, that we are happy to give back to those who have given us so much."
"It took all of our staff cooperating throughout the month of December to make this program run smoothly," said Margaret Jerauld, the Council's activities supervisor. "From compiling master lists of clients, to pickup and delivery of gifts, to counting donations and getting thank you letters written, the great staff at the Council on Aging worked together to make the 2016 Christmas season special for seniors in our area."
If you are interested in volunteering to help the Council on Aging, or if you would like to drop off any new heaters or blankets, call (850) 432-1475.
Council on Aging of West Florida is compliant with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. Learn more at www.bbb.org.