EATON — Basket or box, at Christmas time the container doesn’t really matter — it’s the contents that bring joy to the recipient.
For more than a decade, the Preble County Council on Aging has prepared Christmas boxes for area senior citizens for the annual Christmas Basket Program. The 2020 deliveries were made on Thursday, Dec. 17.
“People who are income-eligible call in at Christmas and get on the list for us to deliver them a nice box of goodies,” PCCOA Executive Director Shelley Ratliff said. “Typically, in the past we have stuck to just food, but this year there’s been an outpouring of generosity from our community and we have gifts for the seniors as well as the food. So, they’ve got enough food to make actual meals, and then they’ve got gifts — some puzzles, and some people have lap blankets. So, it’s going to be something special extra-special for them this year.”
The Senior Center has been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an extended shutdown since March.
Ratliff said it was important for the Council on Aging to continue providing services.
“I think that it hit me not too long ago, that, as a society, we all tend to forget about our seniors,” Ratliff said. “During the year — but at Christmas time, that’s when families get together, or Thanksgiving — just the holiday get-togethers. This year, we’re being encouraged not to get together, and these people still need some holiday cheer. So, it was extra important this year that we took care of that for them.”
Council on Aging staff began working on the Christmas Basket Program since October, storing donated items in the agency’s barn.
“Amy Taulbee, who’s our scheduler and dispatcher, took this project on this year for the first time, and has made sure that every piece of this is down to a science,” Ratliff said.
“Normally we would invite volunteers to come, but because of COVID, it’s our entire staff, which is about 37 of us. We are all dedicating today to doing this,” she added.
Buckeye Jake’s in West Alexandria provided a carryout lunch for the staff to take home to enjoy.
Approximately 190 seniors were delivered Christmas boxes, supported by the many generous community donations.
“It’s amazing that when times are tough, people’s hearts actually get bigger,” Ratliff said of the donors.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr