Central Texas charity asking for volunteers to help deliver gifts to over 2,000 senior citizens who might not get any on Christmas Day
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Friends for Life, a charity in Waco, provides Christmas gifts to senior citizens who may not have anyone to give them gifts or a visit during the holiday season, and, with a growing number of elderly in need in the area, they need volunteers to help deliver.
“At Christmas, it’s so important that we reach out and remember these people,” Friends for Life Executive Director, Inez Russell, said. “Seniors who are living alone and that population is growing so fast.”
The program is called Gifts for Grannies and Grandpas, too. Kay Johnson, the Waco Friends for Life Coordinator, said it’s all about making bringing joy to elderly and adults with disabilities in the community who may feel lonely.
“That gives anybody who doesn’t have family or anyone that they might be getting anything from at Christmas time, a gift,” Johnson said.
During the charity’s Thanksgiving meal distribution, they request a wish list from each person they deliver to. Then, during the holiday season, they gather donations from the community, wrap them and deliver them to elderly in need of necessities or just some company and joy.
One volunteer surprised Abraham, a Waco elderly man who is visually impaired. His face lit up with joy when he heard the volunteer wish him a merry Christmas. As he opened up one of the many gifts in his bag, the volunteer told him it was some new T-shirts. He told her how excited he was and how much he needed them, thanking her and the charity for their thoughtfulness and gifts.
“I can tell you the visit that she was talking about I think is maybe more important...to have somebody care enough to take time to come see them and spend some time with them is huge,” Russell said.
Johnson remembered a time when her sister volunteered to deliver gifts to an elderly man.
“He got his gifts, he was just so overwhelmed,” she said. “He literally started crying and was just so happy that someone remembered him at this time of year because he doesn’t have any family and he lives alone, and he was just overjoyed with the fact that someone even came out to see him.”
Russell said, in addition to delivering gifts and visiting with clients, they hope the program will be an opportunity to help more elderly in need.
“It helps us to build bridges between us and them,” Russell said. “People who are alone often don’t have one person that they can call when they need help, and, if we’ve connected with them by giving them gifts or calling them or sending them cards, then they can think of somebody that they can call when they have a problem.”
However, Friends for Life said, over the past few years, the number of elderly they deliver to has quadrupled. They are asking for more volunteers to help deliver gifts this Christmas.
They said the process is simple. People can come to their main office--5000 Lakewood Dr.--during business hours, show their ID, select which zip code they would like to deliver gifts to and then deliver the gifts to the addresses found on the gift bags before Christmas.
They also ask that people continue to volunteer throughout the year as they provide a number of programs, including adopting a grandparent or donating birthday gifts to elderly and adults with disabilities.
The charity is hoping to work with more agencies to provide services and programs to more people in the community during the new year.
“We know there are so many people out there who need us, and we want to know about them,” Russell said. “We’re going to be doing some additional work this year to partner with some other agencies who serve the same populations in different ways so we can learn who else needs for us to connect with.
If know of anyone who might need a “friend for life,” you can contact the charity here.
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