During the holidays it’s common to donate a toy to a drive, or give a handful of change to charities asking for donations outside of stores, but rarely are those who celebrate their holidays alone remembered.
While caring for her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, Wendy Williams made it her goal to find activities to keep her mother occupied and entertained. “I wanted to find things that we could actually do together,” said Williams. One holiday season Williams decided to take her mother along to volunteer at local nursing homes and decorate for Christmas. Seeing the joy it brought her mother and the residents of the homes alike, it quickly became an annual tradition for Williams during the eight years she served as her mother’s caregiver.
After her mother passed, and Williams began working for Leading Respiratory, she found herself spending more times bouncing around between various nursing homes. As she spent more time inside the facilities, Williams began to recognize the residents that did not have regular visitors and felt compelled to do something for them. “There’s a lot of people in these nursing homes that have no one. Their loved ones have either passed away, or they just don’t receive visitors. You sit and watch other residents have people coming and going, bringing them gifts and goodies and taking them out to dinner or doing nice things for them. And you see the others that sit there alone. It breaks my heart, and I can’t stand to see that,” said Williams.
Williams contacted activity directors from local nursing homes and got the names of residents who don’t receive visitors and approached her pastor to see what could be done. When presented with the idea of assisting seniors in need, Pastor Darrell Nickles jumped at the chance for his Church, Life Point, to lend a helping hand. “Darrell suggested that I collect 50 names of those in need and distribute them to those that wanted to fulfill a senior’s wish list following service,” said Williams. “They were more than willing to help.”
Additionally, Williams said a post on Facebook about her plan to assist seniors received lots of feedback from the community and additional names were sponsored.
The wish lists of the seniors range from snack items, and soft candies, to nail polish, perfume, CD players and coloring books.
Williams will be distributing the donations to residents during their facilities’ Christmas parties, while some of those who donated are choosing to deliver their gifts in person.
While Williams says wish list donations will be distributed by Christmas, she feels there is a constant need for seniors and accepts donations and pushes for volunteering with seniors year round. “Just a half hour of your time, sitting and talking with them or donating to them makes a difference. It keeps them occupied and happy, and we need to do that year round, not just during Christmas time,” said Williams. In the future Williams says she would like to develop an “Adopt a senior” program to enrich the lives of often neglected seniors. In the meantime, Williams will continue to accept donations on their behalf for as long as there is a need.