By Cheril Vernon
Messenger Copy Editor
GRAPELAND – No one wants to be forgotten, especially during the holidays. But many days, the only interaction some home-bound senior citizens in our community have is with the person who delivers their meals via the Meals on Wheels program.
As a way to make sure these neighbors in Houston County are not overlooked, the Adopt a Grandparent program was born a few years ago, the brain child of Houston County Coordinator Brenda Owens.
“This is the fourth year we have done this. It really burdened me, because I don’t think anyone should be forgotten or feel alone during the holidays, and many of them are veterans,” Owens said.
Over the years, the program has grown – with many volunteers, groups, businesses and individuals – making it even better.
For each tax-deductible donation of $20, three senior citizens receive a Christmas gift containing hand-decorated cookies, personal care items (such as lip balm, lotion, thermal socks), a candy cane and a Christmas card with a personal note written by an elementary-age child. Each gift bag is also hand-decorated by children from a local elementary school.
“It’s the joy of knowing they are opening a gift and imagining the smiles when they open the cards and see that someone remembers,” Owens said.
The goal this year is to provide gifts for the 250 homebound senior citizens in Houston County.
“We have kids from Grapeland Elementary decorating the sacks and writing Christmas cards to them. They really enjoy it. They put their heart in it. They write some really sweet messages in the bags and in the cards,” Owens said.
Latexo Girl Scout Troop No. 104156 is currently collecting full-size Ivory bar soaps for the project. Anyone who would like to donate soap, can drop them off at Grapeland Elementary School.
In addition, Crockett Girl Scouts led by Mary Lowe are providing candy canes for the bags.
Boy Scout Troop 440 and 424 in Palestine are providing handmade ornaments.
“Through Adopt a Grandparent, kids are focusing on others’ needs during Christmas, rather than just on what they will receive from Santa,” Owens said. “It’s really cool that the elementary kids and scout troops are helping, doing something especially meaningful for them.”
Ladies from Oak Grove Baptist are gathering all of the stocking caps for the bags, while two other individuals are providing the lip balm for the gifts.
“It’s turned into a community-wide event. All of the sponsors – the businesses names – are written in the Christmas cards too, because they are sponsoring the bags for the kids to decorate,” Owens said.
Owens said she has gotten wonderful feedback over the years from the Meals on Wheels drivers, who have seen first-hand the reactions on the faces of the senior citizens who receive the gifts. Each gift is delivered by the Meals on Wheels staff with a holiday meal.
“We are going to decorate the cookies on Dec. 17 at Grace Bible Church, starting at 6 p.m. On Dec. 18, we will start packaging them up, and then delivery will start on Dec. 19,” Owens said.
Deadline to make a donation for the Adopt a Grandparent project is Dec. 6. Checks can be made payable to Adopt a Grandparent and can be me mailed to the following address: AAG, c/o Brenda Owens, 2016 CR 1865N, Grapeland, TX, 75844. For more information, call 936-222-9781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.