Seniors Give, Receive Joy
by Major Carol Pontsler
In good times or not-so-good, Christmas is a time we like to feel everyone will have someone close who cares about them. At Silvercrest residences, adult day care programs, nutrition sites and senior centers, there is a spirit of anticipation as meeting rooms are garlanded and trees are lit with bright colored lights.
A real sense of family exists at the Reno Silvercrest, where groups of residents visit one another’s apartments to look at Christmas decorations and share the memories attached to them. “You should hear the number of stories we hear, stimulated by the train that runs around the Christmas tree in the community area,” says Capt. Larry Peterson, resident manager.
Consider the tears of happiness evidenced when 150 San Diego, Calif. seniors were allowed one free telephone call (anywhere in the world) for up to one hour. The Salvation Army identified the seniors; Merrill-Lynch footed the bill. In San Francisco, the Army negotiated with Southwest Airlines to fly 21 needy seniors home for Christmas! For four seniors who were too frail to fly unaccompanied, the airline generously provided an extra ticket for a companion!
Near zero weather in Anchorage will not keep the 200-plus home-delivered meals from reaching their destination; while volunteers will be delivering hundreds of “meals that heal” in the Tenderloin District in San Francisco on Christmas Day. Over 200 seniors attended the 15th annual Senior Christmas Luncheon in Seattle. Giving Trees–with their appeal for donors to purchase gifts for seniors–have seen a brisk business in Denver this year.
Perhaps the best evidence of the Army’s commitment is found in its ability to include seniors in the giving of joy to others. The Reno Silvercrest singers will offer their Christmas music at the red kettle several times before Christmas. Esther Kozma will volunteer at the corps doing Christmas intake for the social service department. A group of seniors at the Torrance, Calif. corps are on hand every week-day morning to count the previous day’s kettle receipts; others of them have already helped with the canned food drive and will help serve the Christmas meal at the Marriott Hotel later in the month. Hundreds of seniors will make visits to nursing homes and hospitals, bringing cheer to those away from their families.