Merry Christmas to Local Seniors

The Christmas season is one of joy for many people, but for others, it can be a season of loneliness and isolation, especially senior citizens.

That is, until LifeStream Services, the Fayette County Foundation and local businesses teamed up recently to ensure local senior citizens not only weren’t forgotten about during the holidays, but received some Christmas spirit themselves.

LifeStream is in the home stretch this week of its annual AngelWish program, which delivers holiday packages to isolated senior citizens throughout the organization’s 12-county coverage area – including Fayette County – and representatives of the organization were in Connersville Tuesday at the Fayette Senior Center, to help the distribution process along.

It’s the first year for the AngelWish program in Fayette County, due to LifeStream taking over for Area 9 earlier this year, and 150 local senior citizens will be receiving bags – part of the 1,453 total bags LifeStream plans to deliver throughout its coverage area.

“This was something we’ve done for over 20 years in the Muncie and Anderson area, so it was one of those things we brought down when we took on the Area 9 area, to bring this program down here,” said Jenny Hamilton, interim president and chief executive officer of Lifestream, on Tuesday. “It’s been very well-received by the Foundation and different groups down here.”

Part of that reception came from the Fayette County Foundation, which partnered with LifeStream in the effort and provided $1,568 from two of its FCF endowments – one being the Tina and Ryan O’Neal Elderly Care Support Endowment.

Katherine Good, program director for the FCF, said the partnership with LifeStream was a perfect match, given some of its endowments.

“LifeStream had come to town and introduced themselves, and used our conference room as the meeting space,” Good said. “We had gotten to know who they are, and what they’re all about, and during that presentation, they mentioned the AngelWish program.

“It was really a great match, because have a couple of designated endowments that were a perfect match for this program,” she continued. “One of them was the Tina and Ryan O’Neal Elderly Care Support Endowment, which of course goes to support projects for the elderly. So it was a really good fit and it sounds like they’re meeting a need at Christmastime, and we’re really happy to be a part of it.”

Several other local businesses, including Dollar Tree, Save-a-Lot, A&D, Affordable Homecare, Showalter Blackwell Long Funeral Home, Yaryan Eye Care Center and Best Home Care Services, joined the effort as well to make it come to fruition locally.

The AngelWish bags local seniors will receive, according to Laura Bray, volunteer services administrator for LifeStream and coordinator of the AngelWish program, will include much-needed essentials for those isolated seniors.

“There’s basic necessity food items in there. The electricity goes out, you can have those peanut butter crackers with a can of soup and provide your body nutrition. So we do have those basic food items in the bags, but we are more geared toward personal necessities,” she said. “Things you can’t usually get from a food pantry. Lotion, shampoo, deodorant, soaps, oral care, a lot of that is what fills the bags.

“Toilet paper. Actually, last year, toilet paper was the greatest wish of all. We make sure every bag has toilet tissue in it,” Bray continued. “It’s just a basic necessity, plus there’s a wish in every bag. The seniors were given a list of 15 different items they could choose from, whether it be flashlights, blankets, Sudoku or word searches.”

It’s a program already lighting up the eyes and lifting the spirits of local senior citizens, such as Ellen Gibbs.

“It’s very nice. A lot of us got nice tote bags full of goodies from them,” she said. “It was real nice. It’s a real blessing to people.”

That’s what LifeStream, the FCF and those participating in the effort want it to be – a blessing.

“The seniors are excited to receive the gift bags, because it’s something that’s never been offered to them before,” Bray concluded. “Just to watch them open one and go through it, it just kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy.”

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