For many people the festive period can be a time of great loneliness, especially for those seniors living in care homes who have no family to visit them.
But during 2020 even those seniors with family haven’t been able to hug loved ones and this harsh reminder of how isolated they are comes to the forefront even more during the holidays.
Now, one 12-year-old from Vermont is trying to make a difference to the lives of these lonely seniors with a small project that has captured the hearts of the nation.
Olivia Coolidge started out brainstorming ways she could raise money for her Girl Scout Silver Award project – a mural featuring Girl Scouts in their various uniforms from different time periods.
She decided to raise the money by making stockings full of gifts for her local nursing home – a cause close to her heart.
During visits with her grandmother, who spent time in a nursing home, she would find other residents would want to hug her.
“My grandmother wasn’t doing well and over two years she would have to go in-and-out of various nursing homes for rehabilitation,” Olivia told News 10.
“My mom would take me when she visited and many people would come up to me and hold my hand or hug me.
“One day, we were visiting and a nurse mentioned that they were doing a collection for items they needed to give to residents who had no one. My mom ‘adopted an elderly person’ and we bought him some socks, lotion and PJs.
“After that, it was something we just did each holiday, even after my grandmother died in 2016.”
For her Girl Scout fundraiser Olivia decided she wanted to help the residents of this care home in her local town of Granville, New York, so for a $10 donation people could bring a smile to a forgotten senior on Christmas day with a gift-filled stocking.
Olivia then took $2-$3 toward her Silver Award project for art supplies.
With a goal of 25 stockings by December 15 Olivia actually found she had raised enough money to provide all 88 residents at Slate Valley for Rehabilitation and Nursing with a stocking, thanks to a social media campaign.
Now the residents who have families but haven’t been able to see them will get a stocking to help lift their spirits during the holidays.
“With COVID-19 and safety concerns, most residents haven’t been able to see loved ones or participate in community or facility events. I don’t want anyone to feel they are forgotten and alone,” big-hearted Olivia added.
‘Thank you to all who cared’
Her “Forgotten Senior” stocking gift fundraiser has proved so popular Olivia will be designing a special community badge for other girls to earn by completing similar community projects.
Olivia now plans to make Easter baskets for seniors and double her stocking fundraiser in 2021.
“Thank you to all who cared and gave a lonely elderly nursing home resident a present this Christmas,” Olivia said.
I hope this idea helps to inspire others to reach out to those who have experienced so much loneliness, particularly this year and help bring some Christmas cheer to their lives.
Help us to honor this thoughtful and impressive 12-year-old by sharing her story with others today.