Department Gives Christmas Gifts to Assisted Living Residents | Mississippi News


By DANNY MCARTHUR, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

TUPELO, Mississippi (AP) – Heather Sartin founded Guardian Angels with the simple desire to see assisted living residents receive more for Christmas.

Sartin, Director of Activities at Magnolia Mansion in Tupelo, began a Christmas ministry, called Guardian Angel Elderly Outreach Ministry, his first year at the Mansion. She teamed up with three local teachers at her church and, along with their local schools, adopted 90 residents and packed a laundry basket full of items for each.

On Christmas Eve, they handed out the presents, knocking on residents’ doors while holding the baskets and saying, “Merry Christmas, love Jesus.

The residents loved it. Sartin too.

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“They were literally shocked and fell apart, because I tried to put their favorite snacks in there that I know they like,” Sartin said. “It literally changed my life, in fact, for the better.”

This simple gesture showed Sartin how much locals appreciate little things. A resident was shocked and grateful to receive a case of Coke because it was her favorite drink and she couldn’t always go to the store to get it.

For residents who spend most of their income on rent, receiving the basket of goodies is a luxury.

“They get tickled to death for Coke, for a new blanket, whatever here.” It means something to them, ”Sartin said. “It’s Christmas for them.”

In year two, they provided enough baskets for 600 residents of Magnolia Manor and the rest of the Hickory Senior Living family, as well as unaffiliated facilities.

From those early years, they have grown to serve up to 1,200 residents. They now deliver baskets on Christmas Day.

Sartin wraps the gifts in laundry baskets so that everything is reusable. Each basket includes essentials such as socks, T-shirts, toothpaste, hairspray, snacks, deodorant, shampoo or body powder. They then focus on treats and soft drinks, nail polish for women, and other items so residents receive more than just necessities.

The baskets mean many residents like Kathryn Greene, who received two Christmas baskets in about three years at Magnolia Manor. She used and enjoyed everything in her baskets, but is especially grateful for donations such as a throw, coats, candy, chips and lotion.

“The first Christmas I was here I had a big old basket, and it just had everything in it,” Greene said. “It’s amazing what Heather is doing to work hard to get it all, and I appreciate it. “

Over the past three years, they have also requested baby dolls for specific residents. In general, they ask for stuffed animals so that residents like Greene can give them to their grandchildren on visits or keep the stuffed animals themselves, Sartin said.

Now in its 10th year, the program continues to gain momentum. Each year, more and more residents in assisted living facilities request to be beneficiaries.

The support of the community backs him up. A local church uses its gymnasium to separate laundry baskets by building. Guardian Angels partnered with representatives from the hospice to hold an annual femaleless beauty pageant for a few years to raise money for the ministry. Local businesses also collected items.

Sartin found this display of community love astounding.

“I was very overwhelmed with the support,” she said.

Typically, Sartin encourages people to donate anything they think a resident would like to receive, except for anything sharp, candles, or anything that may present a risk. In the past, families have adopted residents. After filling their laundry baskets with essentials, some families choose to put a few luxuries such as lightly used items, a photo frame, a pillow or a figurine.

The proceeds of the fundraiser are used to fill empty baskets so that they can serve more people. Despite the fact that COVID-19 hurt fundraising last year and economic challenges this year, Sartin is determined to sue the ministry. Through her partnership with United Way of NEMS, she has already been able to secure additional community involvement.

She hopes to help as many residents as possible this year. She encourages the community to get involved in adopting a resident, delivering items to United Way of NEMS, or donating funds.

“There is never too much respect you can give to this generation, and I would like the younger generation to continue to respect our elders,” Sartin said. “It’s thanks to them that we have everything we do.

Copyright 2021 Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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