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Christmas comes for area’s seniors

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop Piedmont Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging Inc. (PSR) from filling and delivering 650 bags this year for part of its Santa for Seniors project.

This year marks PSR’s fifth year participating in the project as part of the Subaru Share the Love Event.

According to PSR Executive Director Justine Young, Subaru donates to four nationwide organizations each year, one of which is Meals on Wheels America.

“Each year we have earned from $7,500-$15,000,” Young said.

As part of Santa for Seniors, PSR works to obtain items of necessity for seniors through donations or fundraising in order to fill gift bags for older adults across its coverage area of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.

This year PSR filled more than 650 bags for delivery, and although the pandemic meant there were many obstacles the organization had to work around, employees and volunteers worked hard to get these important items to local seniors.

“All of those things came in very, very handy,” Farmville resident and bag recipient Albert Hatcher commented. “For those people who don’t get out and don’t get around much, those things are very necessary. During this pandemic, the items come in very handy, and I’m glad you guys are there.”

Young said it will have taken PSR between five and seven days this year to distribute all Santa for Seniors bags to its homebound older adults who are enrolled in PSR’s Home Delivered Meals Service and In-Home Services programs.

“Because of COVID-19, we abided by strict rules when packing to stay safe, which limited the number of people in the packing room,” Young said. “We worked with more than 10 volunteers this year packing the bags, and we are most thankful for their service.”

The 650 bags and laundry baskets distributed this year by PSR were filled with items like soap, deodorant, towels, washcloths, lap blankets, paper products, hats, socks, scarves and food.

Young said it was paramount that PSR get the essentials in every bag to the area’s older adult population. Due to broken supply chains, seniors can’t often get what they need, nor do they always have the ability to go from store to store in search of certain items.

“Thank you for everything you do,” said the son of Nottoway resident and bag recipient Bob Uwanawich. “You have been such a blessing to this family.”

Generous donors also help each year to make sure PSR can fill these bags with necessary household goods and nutritious food.

“We had a donor really stand out this year,” Justine said. “We purchase our homebound meals from Feed More out of Richmond. This year following a Share the Love Zoom call with us, Feed More committed to donating $2,500 and 600 hams for home delivery. This large donation ensured we were able to purchase enough items for the bags.”

Young said RealLiving Cornerstone contributed time and funding for the project to ensure PSR could cover basic items like soap. Additionally, volunteer quilters and knitters donated more than 300 lap blankets for the project.

“We received some amazingly beautiful quilts and blankets,” she said. “And a group of residents at Buckingham made a huge donation of boxed food items for our elderly. This was out of their own pockets and was a very sincere donation. Several of our area social services offices collected for us along with The Outer You Salon. Really, we received amazing community support. It is a job to obtain the items and fill this huge quantity of bags.”

The community response has been pouring in after seniors began receiving their bags.

Mary Saunders, a recipient from Amelia County, called to say, “Thank you, thank you thank you,” for her Christmas bag dropped off by the delivery driver.