Gifts of love.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my absolute favorite part of the holiday season is shopping for “Gifts of love”.

These are gifts that are delivered to residents in an assisted living home in Indianapolis, Indiana, near where I grew up. I started doing this several years ago, as my mom’s office has done this every year and I wanted to join in.

They used to have you draw a name and by specific gifts for a resident, and for three years in a row, I had a resident named Barthenia, and I just loved shopping for her.

I wish I would have taken pictures of some of the things I bought for her, but I know I bought her a blue velour zip-up hoodie and matching lounge pants, along with some leopard print slippers one year. I believe the following year, I got her some thermal pants and a sweatshirt. I always added candy and bath products to her gift pile.

I was heartbroken when her name was no longer on the list, but I’m happy for the years I was able to buy gifts for her. Seniors are often forgotten during the holiday season, and they deserve just as much love as everyone else!

In the last few years, the “Gifts of love” have been a little more generic – items that anyone could enjoy, and those are still fun to shop for. This is what was on the list this year:

Shampoo & Conditioner
Body Wash
Christmas Chocolates
Sugar Free Chocolates
Hard Candy
Sugar Free Candy
Socks – Men’s and Women’s
Stuffed Animals
Throw Blankets
Costume Jewelry
Trinket Boxes
Individual Snacks – pies/Cakes/Cookies
Small Pictures for their walls
Playing cards
UNO cards

The items in green are the ones I purchased. I wasn’t sure what they meant by figurines, but I stumbled across various superhero and Disney character figurines and bought a few, along with some larger-sized army men and a pack of colored dinosaurs.

At first, I thought, “Are the residents going to think these are stupid?” But then I remembered my dad, and how he so wished for a small toy to hold while in ICU. Later, when he was admitted to a regular room, he held a Beanie Baby for comfort. You just never know what kinds of things are going to bring others joy!

I got several books I was excited about – a few biographies, one true crime, and one Hollywood fiction novel. The snacks and candy were easy to find, and I feel like you can never go wrong with those!

I found several small wall hangings – little canvases. I chose ones that had inspirational sayings on them and some with just flowers or teacups.

Any items I didn’t purchase, I let my mom know so she could focus on those – I always wish I could buy more, but I know that collectively, we probably have so many items!

When I shipped the boxes of goodies to Indianapolis this morning, it was 20 pounds worth of gifts, all wrapped and ready!

If you would like to help senior citizens in your area, I’ve researched a few ways you can help. If you know of any other ways readers could help, please leave them for everyone to see in the comments!

Be a Santa to a Senior

Home Instead Senior Care partners with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. The company then works with local businesses and retail stores to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. Each senior’s gift requests are written on a Be a Santa to a Senior bulb. Put in your zipcode here to find a store near you that offers this opportunity!

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels has been guided by a single goal since the first known U.S. delivery by a small group of Philadelphia citizens in 1954 – to support our senior neighbors to extend their independence and health as they age. What started as a compassionate idea has grown into one of the largest and most effective social movements in America, currently helping nearly 2.4 million seniors annually in virtually every community in the country. Meals on Wheels helps seniors live a dignified life in their home, and it’s more affordable than staying in a hospital. Donate here.

Monthly Food Gifts

Check with your local food bank to see if they offer any programs dedicated to senior citizens. When I lived in Baton Rouge, the food bank had a program where $100 would feed a senior for an entire year, and the food was delivered to them monthly, and was customized for their dietary needs. The San Antonio food bank has something similar, as does the Cleveland food bank.

Speaking of giving, don’t forget about my current CONTEST! Subscribe to my blog (by clicking the link on the right side…) and fill out the form below just letting me know you’ve subscribed, and you could win a batch of homemade holiday cookies! I’ll choose a winner on Friday night 🙂

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