BROOKSVILLE -- Christmas is a time that pulls at the heartstrings of children of all ages. Seniors, as well as tots, look forward to a season of warmth and goodwill as many celebrate the birth of the Savior they were introduced to when they were small. The Salvation Army recently launched its Silver Bells ministry with that in mind.
“We decided to begin this program, because so many seniors are forgotten during the busyness of the holiday season,” Lt. Julie Chamberlain said. “We want to let them know that they are appreciated and valued.”
Through the program, the ministry has “adopted” several seniors who might not otherwise have much of a Christmas.
“They’re shut-ins, and they’ll be able to partake of the program this year,” Chamberlain said. “We have already taken applications from seniors residing at Evergreen Woods rehabilitation facility.”
The ministry is hoping people will want to help provide for individual seniors, much like they do for needy children by selecting a tag from so-called Angel Trees distributed throughout the county. Monetary donations also are welcome.
“People who would like to help with gifts for our seniors can call the office, and we’re also going to include them on a few of our Angel Trees,” Chamberlain said. “If monetary donations are made and specified for this program, 100 percent of the funds will go toward the seniors.”
Items seniors have requested include bathrobes, bathroom slippers, books, a radio alarm clock, non-prescription reading glasses and craft items like yarn and crochet hooks.
Along with items provided from the senior’s lists, the Salvation Army will them with care packages, which will include personal care items.
“A group of our volunteers will be going to distribute the gifts and sing Christmas carols the week before Christmas at their Christmas party when they have Santa come by,” Chamberlain said. “We are super excited to be able to help them this year. We are so blessed to have amazing donors and hardworking volunteers who make it all happen.”
The new effort is part of the ministry’s Community Cares program, which provides visits to people in hospitals and nursing facilities throughout the year.
“We are hoping to expand our Silver Bells program next year to include others,” Chamberlain said. “For us and our volunteers, the Christmas season is all about caring for others as we do throughout the year, so it seems like a natural step to take care of our seniors.”
For Chamberlain, it’s also personal.
“I grew up making these visitations as a child,” she said, “And I know it means a lot to some of these seniors to receive a little gift and to spend some time with them, especially around the holidays.”
To help: Those wanting to “adopt” a senior from the Silver Bells program can call the office at (352) 796-1186. Information about what to purchase for some of the seniors is available on the Angel Trees distributed throughout the county. Call to learn more.