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Angels for Aging campaign gathers gifts for seniors

On Dec. 9, members of the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging met at Markley Insurance and Financial Services to collect Christmas gifts donated for local seniors in the Carbon County area through a campaign organized by Angels for Aging.

During the campaign, the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging supplied the names of 45 seniors as well as two suggestions for Christmas presents to their partner in the campaign, Markley Insurance and Financial Services in Lehighton. Upon receiving the names and suggestions, the insurance company hung the seniors’ names and gift suggestions on a Christmas tree in their office for clients, public and staff to take. Once taking a name, these individuals were responsible for purchasing, wrapping and returning the seniors’ gifts to the Markley insurance office.

Susan Zeigler, administrator for the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging, said the agency provides services and assistance to people 60 or older to help them remain in their homes and provides social activities through senior centers, Medicare assistance, and protective services in cases of abuse or exploitation.

Zeigler said the senior names they provided for the Angels for Aging campaign were people who would likely not receive a present this year due to distant family or because they did not have a family at all. A majority of suggestions were provided by personal care aides who work through the agency, and the gifts suggested included items such as gift cards as well as blankets and bedding to keep warm during the winter months.

Zeigler said, “It’s going to help them know that somebody cares about them, that they’re not forgotten. I think with just the present it’s just a little token, but it’s going to help so much with that social isolation that they’re feeling right now and the despair that everybody is feeling right now ’cause this virus is really playing havoc on all of our mental health. We’re just trying to brighten up Christmas.”

Zeigler thanked Angels for Aging, Markley Insurance and Financial Services and the community for their help in making the campaign a success, saying, “It’s very humbling to see the outpouring of the community in this project. It was more than what we expected.”

Larry Markley of Markley Insurance and Financial Services also expressed the success of the event.

Although people who contributed were only asked to donate two items, many people provided even more than what was suggested.

“We do know that many people included sweets or candies or maybe just a few extra things for them so there’s likely over 100 gifts there,” Markley said.

With COVID-19 impacting the normal proceedings of the holiday season, especially for elderly individuals often at higher risk for contracting the virus, Markley said the campaign will have a positive impact on the seniors.

“Any Christmas is a special time, but probably with COVID and given the fact that many of these folks are probably seeing less of their loved ones than they might otherwise have, I think that this whole thing makes it just a little more special for those folks.”

Markley said he hopes to expand the Christmas tree for next year as well as the number of names on it to provide even more gifts to those in need.

From left, Deena Fital, administrator Susan Zeigler of the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging and Larry Markley of Markley Insurance and Financial Services with some of the presents for local seniors donated by the public as well as clients. LINDSEY BOWMAN/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS