Local women’s club delivers gifts yearly to special needs adults at local center
About three to four years ago, Ben Guerrant says he was contacted by a local women’s club. “They wanted to do something for a group; it’s just one of those things that just fell together — they were looking for something philanthropic to do, and we identified a need.”
From that sprung one of the most joyous days of the year for the Adult Day Healthcare, part of A Gathering Place, the senior citizens home: when the Democratic Women’s Club comes to visit, bearing gifts. Guerrant, director of the center, says it’s a priceless event for the special needs adults.
“Some of the folks we serve don’t have the opportunity to gather with family, or don’t have the means to have a meaningful gift exchange. This is so incredibly wonderful for our group to be on the receiving end of some generosity from our community,” he said.
Guerrant said the club asks for a wish list for each individual. “So our clients filled out one, sort of like a letter to Santa type thing. Those who can’t, we ask family to help them with it.” He said staff figured every client would get a gift they’d be able to open, Santa visits, they have cookies and punch …
“But when they showed up that day, they had everything — they bought everything on everybody’s list. The pile under the tree was enormous. It was truly such a surprise, not only for the clients, but staff as well,” Guerrant said. He said not only for clients, but for the staff, “it is really meaningful. We get to know these folks, they’re like a second family — we’re with them every day. When someone comes in from the community and is that generous, it’s just so heartwarming to us.”
On Thursday morning, jolly old St. Nicholas bound into the room much to the delight of everyone. He took a seat in a wingback chair next to the Christmas tree surrounded by gifts of all sizes wrapped in color paper and bags. Then with a twinkle in his eye, Santa called out each client’s name, who then came up to welcome him personally. Some folks thanked him and took the small bag of fruit he handed out, and went back to their chairs. Others warmly welcomed him with hugs and some relished sitting on his lap to have their picture made.
Members of the Democratic Women’s Club then went to work handing out packages to everyone, saying “Merry Christmas!”
Then the clients started tearing open their presents, with the same joy and excitement as many children do. They got warm clothing and underwear, but they also received special gifts that they had hoped for — a microwave, jewelry, toy cars, coloring books, crayons, a CD/radio, and UK and U of L hats and shirts.
And Graylon Sharp got just what he always asks for — Diet Pepsi and Hershey Bars.
Lacresha Gibson, past president and current member of the club, said it always tries to find something within the community to serve, “some way to make an impact.” The club has taken snacks out to cancer patients at a local center, for example.
“We do it to be active within the community; it’s not just a social club. It’s here to serve our community,” Gibson said. After visiting the center the first year and delivering gifts, the club felt the impact from the visit, as well.
“It is truly so nice to see all the smiling faces — it’s humbling and rewarding,” she said. Gibson said this time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in buying pricey gifts, or the most popular electronic gadgets or toys.
“When you’re buying things like Pepsi, Hershey bars, coloring books — it’s just things they need.” She said that every year, as soon as November hits, the club “is like, ‘let’s get our list.’ We want to pick our person to buy for. It’s just something for our community. It’s something we do in order to find ways to make a real impact.”
Guerrant says an impact is definitely made.
“It’s as meaningful to staff now as it is to clients,” he said.
For more information about A Gathering Place and Adult Day Healthcare center, or for anyone interested in volunteering, call (859) 236-2070.
Robin Hart also contributed to this story.
These Christmas greeting cards are from a collection owned by Sharon Stratton of Danville. She is an avid historian... read more