Two area residents are working to make the holidays a bit brighter for area seniors.
Mary Ann Dulaney and her daughter Jessica Kutza of Coaldale have organized a "Socks for Seniors" project throughout our area, gathering warm socks and other items to distribute to local seniors.
"Every year, we buy items for local nursing homes. When we heard about the Socks for Seniors program, we thought this would be a great way to grow what we were already doing," said Dulaney.
"Everyone remembers the kids during the holidays, but no one remembers senior citizens."
The pair have distributed donation drop-off boxes at businesses throughout the area.
Donations will be distributed to local nursing and rehabilitation centers, including The Summit at Blue Mountain, Mahoning Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and St. Luke's Miners Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Coaldale.
Because these locations had gift requests beyond socks, Dulaney and Kutza are also requesting donations of personal care items (including shampoo, lotion, chap-stick, deodorant, brushes and combs, aftershave, shower caps, and small hand sanitizers), individually packaged snacks or sugar-free candy, soft tissues, costume jewelry, garden gloves (for wheelchair use), small stuffed animals, and holiday decorations.
"These are simple, inexpensive things that they can use. They do ask for them," said Kutza. "A lot of these things are so simple, and you could pick up an extra pair of socks or an extra personal item when you're out shopping. A lot of these things are on sale right now."
The mother-daughter team will continue collecting items from now through Dec. 12.
After sorting through the donations, any cash donations will be used to purchase items still needed by local nursing homes.
Socks for Seniors is a nationwide service project that supports individual efforts to hold sock drives in local communities.
The project was founded by Jamie Coyne in Columbus, Ohio, to increase interaction with senior citizens and ensure that all seniors, even those without family members, have a gift to open at the holidays.
"I'm so very happy that they're doing this, and that they thought of our residents at the holidays," said Alicia Silliman, nursing home administrator at The Summit at Blue Mountain.
"So many of our residents don't have family, outside of their family at the nursing home. It's all about making the residents feel special. That's what is important."
She noted that for residents who don't have family members nearby, it can be meaningful to receive a gift of shampoo or aftershave that reminds them of home.
Something as simple as receiving their favorite lotion can make the holidays seem a bit brighter.
"I think it's fabulous," said Silliman. "When Mary Ann and Jess called me, I was so impressed by the program. This adds so much more meaning to the holidays."
New, unwrapped items can be dropped off at the following locations:
Coaldale: Tommy's Restaurant, Angela Triplex Theater
Jim Thorpe: Penn's Peak Radio
Lansford: Sports Zoo, JJ's Hair and Tanning
Lehighton: Midas, Asphalt Paving Systems
Nesquehoning: Classic Beverage
New Ringgold: Dr. Rosalee Rehrig's office
Summit Hill: Hiles Brothers
Tamaqua: Dr. Puddu's office, Rottet Motors
To take part in the Socks for Seniors program, simply drop off a new, unwrapped item at a local drop-off box.
Businesses interested in hosting a drop-off box can contact Dulaney at (570) 645-4228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We'd love for other businesses or organizations to get involved, and we want to work with anyone who is willing to help," said Dulaney.
Interested businesses will receive a Socks for Seniors sign and can either wrap their own drop-off collection box, or request that Dulaney provide an appropriate-sized box for donations.
All donations must be made by Dec. 12.