Local senior Christmas project underway

Above, COA staff during last year's senior Christmas project preparing various donated items for gift bags.  

With the holiday season fast approaching, staff at DeKalb County Council on Aging has begun its work to provide members of the seven senior centers a gift this Christmas.

Efforts first took shape last year as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Alabama, closing all senior centers in DeKalb County for most of the year.

COA Activities Coordinator Joyce Rabinowitz said the winter season is a tough time of the year for many seniors and even tougher as the nation continues to battle COVID-19.

“There's a lot of them that don’t have a family to take care of them and they are trying to save money,” she said. “Besides, the majority of older citizens live off their social security.”

In a short span of three weeks last year, the COA staff via sponsorships and donations put together individual gift bags for participants of local senior centers.

“Last year was pretty good,” Rabinowitz said. “It was very hectic and a little stressful on such short notice but this year I am trying to give everyone a chance to help.”

Rabinowitz encourages organizations, health fair participants, companies and local businesses in the area to get a head start this year in considering sponsorships or donations.

“For many seniors, this might be the only Christmas gift they get,” she said. “The majority of the items they usually receive are things seniors may not have the money to buy or something they wouldn’t buy for themselves because of other needs.”

When asked what things they might need, Rabinowitz said many of them ask for basic items, such as toilet paper, paper towels, masks and things of that nature.

After discussing the needs of seniors with COA Director Emily McCamy, the pair agreed monetary donations would go towards purchasing specific necessities such as blankets.

“We are going to send out forms for each one of them to fill out what they need,” said Rabinowitz. “They are usually thankful for anything that they get. It's the little things they get excited about.”

Among last year's donated items from businesses and organizations were coloring books, color pencils, food gift cards, manicure sets, masks, calendars, dishcloths, notepads, ink pens, gloves, pill organizers and socks.

“We have seven senior centers and three distribution centers. As of today, we have 892 clients,” said Rabinowitz.

Additionally, she said the number of participants has increased from 688 to 892 since the start of the pandemic.

“These bags go out to all of our clients at the seven nutrition centers and the three distribution centers in DeKalb County,” Rabinowitz said. “The number of clients in need usually increases closer to the holiday season.”

She said children are not the only ones in need of a “little something” to keep them warm or look forward to this holiday season.

“I want to encourage the businesses in DeKalb County to step up and help bless these seniors,” said Rabinowitz. “This little group of seniors that live in their communities counts for a whole lot and this is a way to help them get a little something. It’s not asking for much, just something that can go in their Christmas bag.”

The deadline for donations is the week before Thanksgiving. Letters of donations are available.

Donations may be dropped off at DeKalb County Transportation and Council on Aging at 600 Tyler Avenue or arranged for pick up by contacting Joyce Rabinowitz at 256-714-4515 or 256-845-8590.

Monetary donations may be made out to DeKalb County Council on Aging, marked for “Senior Christmas bags.”

For regular updates, follow the DeKalb County Transportation and Council on Aging on Facebook @DeKalbCoA.

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