PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County Council on Aging is working hard to make sure everyone has access to a meal during the holidays. On Thursday, Dec. 19, PCCOA staff and volunteers worked to deliver 150 holiday baskets to eligible seniors.
According to Marketing Manager Holly Steele, making sure that seniors in the Preble County community have necessary food is not only important to PCCOA, but it is its duty and mission.
“There are a lot of seniors in the community that don’t have a lot and they count on this box of food to help get them through the holidays,” she said. “The idea behind [the program] was feeding the seniors in the community over the holiday, spread some joy, and give a little hope to those who deserve it.”
Everyone who applied for the program received a Holiday Christmas Basket. PCCOA delivered 150 boxes throughout Preble County. The program is income based, and the recipients must be over the age of 60 and live in Preble County.
Both a bag and a box was delivered to every senior who applied. The bags were filled with perishable items such as milk, eggs, cheese, biscuits, butter, and bread. The boxes were filled with peanut butter, crackers, canned vegetables, paper towels, cereals, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, cookies, etc. As well as soaps, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc.
Food and money for this program is donated through community organizations, individuals, and businesses. Financially, this program raised over $7,300 this year.
“There is a particular senior, who we will keep anonymous. This program was really dear to his heart. He always challenged us on our trips to donate to the Holiday Christmas Baskets, he would match our donations. He offers ‘Christmas in July,’ he would match the donations brought in during July for this program. He passed away this year, and we are hoping that the program will continue. His drive and generosity aided in keeping us and the community motivated and focused with this program,” Steele said.
“In addition, Neaton gathers food in their barrel every year and we drive one of our vans to them to load up the food to give to the seniors. Not to mention several other business such as Remagen, Wallace Heating & Air, St. Ann Sodality Church of the Visitation, Drake Heating & Air, Lawn Plus, EHS class of 1965, Reflections, and many individuals who donated.”
While there were 15 volunteers who gave up their hours to deliver baskets, many staff members of PCCOA help with this program as well.
This is the first year Driver Dave Kuhbaneer has helped out with the Holiday Christmas Basket Delivery. He appreciates the opportunity to give back to the community in this way and see the impact he can make.
“I like working with people. I’ve done this kind of work in the past – I’ve only worked for the council for less than a year. I feel like I’m accomplishing something in life,” Kuhbaneer said. “There are a lot of people in this world with less than what we have. It gives you a chance to give back to the community.”
Mobility Manager Tim Miller has been a part of the delivery for four years. He believes it is important for PCCOA to give back, since the community support their many programs and events.
“I just enjoy seeing the people. They are so appreciative of what Council on Aging does for them. Most of these people we deliver these baskets to are very deserving and need the help,” Miller said. “The community supports the Council on Aging so we want to help them out in return.”
Steele added, “A big ‘Thank You’ to Shirley Cottingim for organizing the Holiday Christmas Baskets, and Amy Taulbee who also helped in ensuring the tasks got done. A huge ‘Thank You’ to humanitarian Stephen Hamm for his ongoing encouragement, generosity and his love for this program.”
For seniors who receive Holiday Christmas Baskets, this program literally keeps them from being hungry over the holidays.
Penny Major received a Holiday Christmas Basket years ago, but hasn’t received one in recent years. She received a newsletter from PCCOA and applied, knowing the basket would help her over the holiday season.
“This helps me by providing food,” she said. “I receive transportation from the Senior Center. I don’t know how I would get to the doctor or grocery without them.”
Rita Rich received a Holiday Christmas Basket last year as well. Her family is on food stamps and without the Holiday Christmas Basket, they would go hungry over the holiday.
“We go hungry a lot here. I only make $137 on food stamps and that doesn’t last,” she said. “It really helps us out. This program helps out a lot of poor people — it really does.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH