I visited a place in the Ambler area, a place I have been twice and my sister who also does entertainment has been a dozen times. I knew that the residents there would love the gifts that have been donated for Operation Secret Santa for People in Nursing Homes. So, I carried boxes and gift bags filled with pencils, pens, hard candy, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, hand’made Christmas ornaments, holiday Snowmen decorations, tissue paper corsages, hair brushes, body creams and lotions, Chap-Stick, pink and blue slippers, new magazines; word search, word scramble and crossword puzzle books, note cards, Christmas cards, a pink wallet, a black purse, a black blouse, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, cookies, gum, fleece blankets, stuffed animals, socks, scarves, gloves…..you name it – we had it – in with the wonderful Christmas goodies donated by the people who read about my project in the North Penn Reporter!
But alas, this was not the place for the goodies. The Activity Director said that it was too early to give out Christmas gifts and said that she could hold them until December 22nd when Santa Claus comes to visit. She also showed me about 50 gift bags that had been donated by a church congregation. Each bag held a Beanie Baby, lotion, hand sanitizer, and another item.
I wanted to be able to extend the joy from all of the donors to the residents, on a more personal level. I wanted to see the smiles of joy. I wanted to make a difference with the gifts that were donated by so many generous people.
I have talked to all of the people who called and wanted to help out. I know of all of the expense that people went to, to purchase items for me to pass out. I know of the people who asked co-workers and cousins and friends to pitch in to help. I know of the couples, the Scouts, the boys’ basketball team at MMR, the neighbors and friends who chipped in to make gift bags, the ladies living on very fixed incomes…..I knew that they would want the fruits of their labors to go to the right “home” and they did!!!!
So that is why I didn’t leave the items. I just couldn’t do it. That wasn’t the right facility. That wasn’t the right home! The two young activity aides helped me to carry everything back to my car.
I called another facility and asked if I could come there at 3 pm. I asked the Activity Director if she could set up a large table that I could spread the goodies on. And I asked her to invite a lot of residents to come to the room for Christmas presents.
When I got there, the AD was helping 8 residents going on a bus for a trip to Wal-Mart. She had assigned a member of her staff to meet me in the front lobby with a large flatbed cart. We emptied the back of my mother’s car, filled with items for 30 people, on to the cart and we wheeled it in.
The table was quickly filled with all of the holiday gift items and the room was quickly filled up with 20 residents who didn’t really know why they were in the room. The aide turned on the Christmas music and we gave everyone an empty gift bag or decorated shoebox. And then they went to town……each person selecting five items that they wanted or needed. And some were like a Mom on a Mission in K-Mart, selecting 7 or 8 items. But that didn’t matter. To me, that was great. To see their happy expressions, selecting things to give to their grand-kids and great grand-kids. And special items for themselves.
Then we went down and set up our wares on the first floor – only five ladies in that room. The reaction was the same- incredulous that the presents were free – they could take what they wanted and fill their bags with colorful and “happy-looking things.”
Then, we did room-too-room visits. Can you imagine what your surprise gifts meant to people who are too sick or too disabled to be out of their beds?
I left the place saying out loud: Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you for letting me bring all of these beautiful donated things to this place. They needed them. This was the perfect home and all of the people who donated would be soooooooooo happy to know that their generosity was so appreciated.
Thank you to all! You made a very early Merry Christmas for a whole lot of people!