By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – With the holiday season upon us, there is an air of festivity and cheer all around us. Families are preparing for their gatherings and gifts are being purchased.? But for some, the holidays can be a time of loneliness and angst.
Recognizing this, Home Instead Senior Care, Central One Federal Credit Union in Northborough, and the Northborough Council on Aging started the tradition of a “giving tree” for seniors each holiday season. Participating patrons at the Central One Federal Credit Union remove a tag from the tree, specifying a small present from a local senior's wish list. The presents are then delivered to the Northborough Senior Center, ready to be wrapped.
On Dec. 10, there was a “wrapping party” at the Northborough Senior Center. Many volunteers came to assemble the gift bags filled with items such as toiletries, granola bars, socks, cookware, hats and gloves, and flannel sheets.
“We started doing this years ago,” explained Laurie Bender, owner of Home Instead Senior Care. “We were aware that many seniors were minimizing the holidays because they were alone. Christmas and the holidays are so joyful when you have people to celebrate with. These humble gifts mean the world to these people.”
Laurie is given a list from the Senior Center anonymously with a number. The gifts are purchased, along with a stocking bag filled with things like stamps, books, powder, candy, or other items they think they will enjoy.
Some of the volunteers are Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) students and members of the National Honor Society, while another volunteer was retired and looking for ways to give back to the community.
“Giving should be a lifestyle,” shared Ruth MacArthur, Girl Scout Troop leader. “This is an important way to improve someone else's life.”
Some of the girls from her troop were alongside her, while others were volunteering at Whitney Suites at the Willows in Westborough.
Lily Pearl, an ARHS student, said, “I do a lot of volunteering here at the Senior Center. It's a great way for me to give back to the community. I also like the tie between the young and the old. Both parties can benefit from this interaction.”
Each year, this event is quite successful. In many instances, these token gifts are the only ones that many of these seniors receive. Many are alone with no family living nearby.
“I think this event has been well received over the years. The seniors are just overjoyed with whatever they get,” said Kelly Burke, director of the Senior Center.
In addition to Burke and Bender, Kate Shaw, Northborough branch manager of Central One Federal Credit Union, Joscelyn Ehrhardt, outreach coordinator at the Senior Center, Wendy Nollman, marketing director/community service representative at Home Instead Senior Care, and volunteers have all been an integral part in making this event as successful as it has been.
“We had a huge donation again this year,” Bender said. “Local businesses allow us to put up placards to direct participants to the tree so it's a community event.”