MAYFIELD — Knowing the issues COVID-19 has already had on numerous events and activities, a 14-year project aimed at spreading some added Christmas cheer is already up and “ringing.”
Silver Bells is a holiday program that provides gifts to personal care home residents, who may not have any family or friends, according to Purchase Area Development District Long Term Care Ombudsman Sarah Dodd. And to prepare for necessary sanitizing of gift items, she said they have established an earlier drop off date of Dec. 4.
“I’m going to have to sanitize those harder items and at least spray them down when we get them. And I don’t want to put anyone else at risk taking gifts in, so it’ll be me taking care and trying to keep down as much touch traffic as I can,” Dodd said.
Similar to gift-giving programs like angel trees, Silver Bells allows people to contact the PADD office in Mayfield to “adopt” a resident who has provided Dodd their “wish list.” They then purchase requested items then return them to the PADD where they will be wrapped and delivered before Christmas.
Last year, Silver Bells provided gifts to nearly 140 residents. This year, Dodd said she already had 140 people from Fern Terrace of Mayfield and Murray facilities adopted with 45 more to be adopted.
“So we’re getting there,” she said. “The community’s so far been very good.”
Dodd said most wish list requests have been for shower items, snacks and blankets, which they normally would be able to get on their own if not for COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s sad because they haven’t been able to leave (their facilities) since March, so things they’d normally have they can’t leave and get,” she explained. “They can’t go out. If they go out, they’re on a 14-day quarantine when they come back. They likely won’t be able to have family inside on the holidays and that’s so awful.”
Fern Terrace of Mayfield activities director Crystal Lawson said efforts that connect outside groups or programs with residents means a lot since many do not have families.
“A lot of our residents don’t have families. They have nothing,” she said. “When people want to help, it means the world to them. It’s a blessing. They’re like little kids.”
Additional gifts can be added to the Silver Bells wish list as “stocking stuffers,” such as board games or activity items like books, notebook paper, color pens and puzzles, or gloves, socks, scarves or personal care items.
“Last year, we’d have a certain church or business bring a bunch of shower items or blankets that I could add in there,” Dodd added. “This year, I had 15 people wanting shower items so that stuff coming in extra will cover that Silver Bell if they’re not adopted.”
These items, Dodd said, go a long way to keeping residents active in spite of the coronavirus.
“Some can go outside and sit at a picnic table, but they have to be 6 feet apart. You can’t even play cards, because you’re touching the cards and it’s hard to play 6 feet apart,” she said.
Those interested in a Silver Bell adoption or with questions can contact Dodd at 270-251-6120. Dropped off items must be in gift bags.