November 6, 2023 at 9:10 a.m.

SFOH 5th Annual Adopt-a-Resident Gift Giving to Go Live this Week

By JENN WILLHITE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The 5th Annual Adopt a Resident gift giving opportunity, offered by the Student's Fund of Hope in collaboration with Miller's Merry Manor assisted living facility, is set to go live this week and organizers couldn't be more excited to offer holiday cheer to area seniors again this holiday season.

Truly an event to brighten the days of those less fortunate, this opportunity to give is one that always goes fast, says Whitney Budd, founder of the Student’s Fund of Hope.

Each year, Budd posts a general listing of the Manor’s residents, divided by male and female only, for Hope-area residents to “adopt,” shop for and bring a gift box to for them to open for Christmas.  

The annual gift-giving effort began five years ago in answer to those families who reached out wanting to do more to help make the season bright for those less fortunate. It is always around this time of year that people seek out opportunities to give back, Budd says.

Budd says she asked, how many residents are in the nursing home who see no one?

The answer was simple. Offer a gift giving opportunity to brighten the lives of area seniors that, at the same time, gives parents a great chance to experience a teachable moment with their children.

It isn’t uncommon for older adults to sometimes dismiss youth as ill-equipped to handle real-life situations or to dismissively say, “They just don’t get it.” After all, they are young, small and are equipped with little to no real-world experience. But that is where leading by example and giving the young people space to experience and learn comes in, Budd believes.

“We cannot expect them to be better humans, build a better world or talk about being the change,” Budd says. “We cannot expect them to do that without being given the opportunities to foster giving back and showing them what generosity really is. Showing them there are people in less fortunate situations.” 

Each year, Budd posts a listing of Miller’s Merry Manor residents as simply male and female. This year there are nearly 40 residents who will be receiving gifts selected and wrapped by Hope area residents and their children.

“It is such a great opportunity and there are so many people who want to help,” Budd says. “Angel Trees and Thanksgiving baskets can only go so far; so, I think we need to be creative with the ways we give back and make kids feel empowered that even though they are small they can still make a big difference.”

Erica Paetzel, who works in admissions and marketing with Miller’s Merry Manor, experienced the gift giving firsthand for the first time last year.   

“It was absolutely amazing,” Paetzel says. “Just having the people who are willing to do this for people they don’t even know is amazing.”

There are quite a few residents who don’t receive gifts or things from anyone at all, she says.

“So, even having this is a big deal,” Paetzel adds. “The people are so excited and willing to do it.”

This year, boxes must be dropped off between 6 and 8 p.m. December 18 at Miller's Merry Manor, located at 7440 N County Road 825 East, Hope. 

Among the most popular items for gifting are those things that make us all feel comfy, cared for and loved during the holidays, Budd says. From slipper socks, fleece blankets and hats to scented body washes and lotions, sugar free candies and handmade Christmas cards, the residents at Miller’s Merry Manor certainly feel remembered, loved and cared for during the holiday season.

Even small stuffed animals are very much looked forward to and appreciated, Budd says.

“A lot of residents suffer from dementia,” she says. “And, so, one of their favorite things is getting little stuffed animals. They treat them like their baby or, when their grandkids come to visit, they can gift them, and it makes the resident feel good to have something to give their family members.”

This year, in addition to the residents at Miller’s, the SFOH is partnering with the Hope Ministerial Association to provide gift boxes to more seniors in need of love and cheer.

“We are going to give people the opportunity to do 10 boxes for each church and then those church congregations can identify some elderly in their church who don’t get a lot of visitors around the holidays,” Budd says. “They are going to give those to those members of the churches.”

Budd stresses that including children in this type of charitable activity can be invaluable to the child both now and in the future as acts of kindness in the face of adversity is a tremendous moment that helps plant and nurture the seed of empathy in the young.

“Empathy is not just something that is naturally in children,” Budd says. “I think we have to be very mindful about how we are using these opportunities because kids have the capacity to really want to give back and understand.”

And that impact reflects the gravity of the impact the residents feel, Paetzel says.

Seeing the residents open gifts with hand-crafted cards bearing well-wishes and holiday cheer brings light and a sense of belonging to many of the residents.

“The residents get so much joy from it,” Paetzel says. “It brings them quality of life and that one day they open those gifts, it makes their year.”

Today, there are residents who are still wearing the hat they got last year or the year before, she says.

“It brings us joy, too, just seeing them light up and have the day to themselves,” Paetzel says. “It is truly amazing to live in Hope and to know the community comes together like this.”

** For more information about the Adopt a Resident gift-giving program, watch for updates for SFOH HERE. To learn how you can help make a difference, reach out to the SFOH HERE or keep in touch via Facebook for the latest news and updates.