From the Community to FEAST at Home Recipients - The True Holiday Magic

Social isolation is a big issue for the older adult population. According to one study, social isolation can be just as deleterious to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Add in a raging pandemic and the often nostalgic feel surrounding the holiday season, and an acute problem becomes all the more so. Serving at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center (MSAC), attempting to counter these effects is central to our mission. One particular segment of the population we serve, our FEAST at Home (meals on wheels) recipients, are often on the forefront of our minds as we think about ways to maintain connections. While this is true year round, it was even more so this holiday season after the unprecedented year of isolation and separation that characterized much of 2020. As such, my host site and I were determined to provide some sort of bright spot to end the year on a more positive note. To that end, a call was put out to the community: if you are able, please donate items that can be used to help us fill shoeboxes that can be delivered to our FEAST participants along with their special holiday meal. To say the community responded does not quite capture the scale of the reply. Wrapping paper was donated from a local merchant. Fresh fruit was donated from the local co-op. A nearby independent living center donated shoeboxes already wrapped and filled with goodies. A group of local school children made handmade cards. And, in a steady stream of donations, gifts came pouring in from members of the MSAC community and beyond. Pretty soon, there were piles stretching across four large tables full of decorative ornaments, handmade crafts, calendars, hats, scarves, Sudoku and crossword puzzle books, among a sea of other items too numerous to name. Of course, given the times, there was no shortage of personal sized bottles hand sanitizer, either. As we finished the last of the wrapping, box number 55, I thought about the community response and the joy it would bring our meal recipients. For some, it may be the only gift they receive that year. I hoped that they would enjoy unwrapping their boxes to see the various holiday gifts that had been gifted to them. But, more importantly, I hoped they would unwrap their boxes to see a community who values, respects, and cares deeply about them.