PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) delivered Holiday Christmas Baskets to area seniors on Thursday, Dec. 20. Many seniors find it difficult to afford meals in the month of December, so to make it easier, the Senior Center provided them with enough food for a week.
Participating seniors had to be over the age of 60 and apply for the program, which is income-based. Those chosen were then provided with a bag and a large box of food. All were thankful to PCCOA for helping make their holidays a little easier.
In-home Services Supervisor Shirley Cottingim explained, every year PCCOA accepts donations for their Holiday Christmas Baskets program from clients and different businesses. This year, approximately $7,200 was raised for the program.
Items including but not limited to boxed macaroni and cheese, cereals, oatmeal, crackers, milk, bread, and spaghetti were provided in the holiday baskets. According to Cottingim, the box can provide meals for a week or more, depending on the size of the family.
“We have a lot of seniors out there that don’t have very much and they count on this food during the holiday time, same with Home Delivered Meals that we deliver a hot meal once a day five days a week. They count on that. Plus, it is a friendly face that gets to visit them and say ‘Merry Christmas’,” Cottingim said.
“This makes a world of difference in their lives. Some of them, with their income, don’t have all the monies they need to have that extra food. I love seeing their faces when we deliver the boxes, they are so grateful and thankful. I appreciate that they enjoy the food and that we can do this.
“I appreciate all the volunteers and staff that helps and all the businesses that donate. We want to thank Ace Hardware, Silfex, Neaton, Needler’s, and all the staff that helped. We start this process a few weeks before, so thank you to all the staff and volunteers, because without all of them we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Volunteer Tristan Seymour is only 14 years old, but has already fallen in love with volunteering.
“I like helping people and my mom came to me and asked if I wanted to get out of school and I said sure. Even when I was a kid, I enjoyed helping people,” he said. “Taking meals to seniors shows them, maybe their families aren’t always there, but we are always here to help them, bring food to them, and take care of them.”
Volunteers Del Thacker and Don Vaughn help out the Senior Center whenever possible. Both volunteered to deliver Holiday Christmas Baskets last year and enjoyed it so much they are back again this year.
“It helps to make sure they have something to eat. Plus, with the holidays, the Senior Center will be closed down for a few days,” Thacker said. “This is helping people that need it, and that is a big deal.”
“It’s a helping hand, for those that need food and can’t get out. It makes a difference for them to know that there are people out there that cares for them. They have a place to go to, if they should need help,” Vaughn said.
“I love volunteering with the Senior Center. I like helping out and being of service to somebody. Down the road, if I need help, I know I have somebody to help me.”
For Gloria Rader, the Holiday Christmas Basket is a big help for her at Christmastime.
“If I had company, it helps to feed them. I think it is really wonderful that the Senior Center would take the time and the money to help people that needs it. This makes the holiday season a lot easier for me,” she said.
Holiday Christmas Basket recipient Pam Weadick recently went through a tough time with her family which left her financial strained. The basket from PCCOA helps her have food for the month of December.
“It is all I can do to make it through the month. Now, I have food, because I couldn’t buy food for the month. I didn’t have enough left over after paying my bills and stuff, so I was excited,” she said.
“I didn’t know anything about this program, but a bunch of my friends live here and they were telling me about it. So I applied, because I knew it would be a big help to me. I never realized until I was put in this circumstance how many people need help. It is really great that PCCOA helps out. It is vital.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH