A group of volunteers huddled around a van Friday afternoon at Loudon Gardens Apartments, each taking bags and placing them on a cart so they could go door to door and deliver to residents.
Good Neighbors Shoppe and Mid-East Community Action Agency partnered for the third year to provide residents a bag of essentials, including blankets, towels, dish detergent, tissue paper and other items some may not think of this time of year.
“A lot of times at the end of the month they don’t have that stuff,” Joy Bowman, Good Neighbors representative, said. “There are 48 apartments and they’re either seniors or they’re disabled. There’s 54 people in the 48 apartments.”
Bowman has coordinated the distribution all three years.
“Della (Larson) got me involved with these people just bringing out essential things that they needed at the end of month like toilet paper and paper towels,” Bowman said. “And then we did a Christmas in July, and Thanksgiving we brought everybody a little pie and Halloween everybody got a bag, so we do different holidays, too, with a little something.”
From the group of 12 volunteers, 10 were from Good Neighbors or MECAA.
Lynn Moyers, Good Neighbors board vice president, helped for the first time.
“It’s awesome. I love people coming to the door,” Moyers said. “They’re very appreciative, receptive, and this is a lot of stuff for them. These are household items, special items and it’s simple day and you give so much. It’s a very simple giving on our part but a big reception on their part.”
Della Larson, MECAA outreach coordinator, considered the partnership with Good Neighbors “one of the strongest there is.” She helped take gifts to residents.
“You see a lot of loneliness, a lot of isolation,” Larson said. “... They came out and they decorated the tree, we had about 60 percent participation in the lighting of the Christmas tree (at Loudon Gardens), and we had snacks and we had gifts on the table.”
MECAA also gave gifts to 75 residents during Meals on Wheels distribution.
Similar to the Loudon Gardens gifts, people received dish detergent, shampoo, toilet paper and paper towels.
“They got a lot of things that they could use around the house,” Larson said. “They got toboggans. They got scarves.”
Larson believes the gifts matter to residents “probably more than you could ever imagine.”
“There’s so much loneliness, and that’s even more — people are lonely, and you go in these houses and they just light up,” she said. “It’s just amazing what it does. The cheer, the brightness, the thoughts. There is a lot, a lot of loneliness in the county that people don’t realize.”
The distribution is equally as special to volunteers.
“If it wasn’t rewarding at my age I wouldn’t be doing it,” Larson said with a laugh. “Probably the most rewarding thing in my life, and I’ve worked on Wall Street, I’ve worked everywhere, but this has been the most important feedback I’ve ever had.”