Seniors make Christmas wishes | SierraSun.com

Seniors make Christmas wishes

Alanna Lungren

Winter coats, flannel pajamas, socks and space heaters are a few examples of the items requested and received last year by about 100 seniors as a part of the Truckee Tahoe Seniors Council Christmas Wish Request program.The seniors council, since 2001, has been providing older residents in the Truckee-Tahoe community numerous services that they would otherwise live without.The Meals on Wheels program is one such program that feeds about 45 homebound people – elderly folks and disabled adults who need additional help to eat more nutritiously.Many of these people in the past have been very active in the community, but now either live alone and many without family in the area to help care for them. According to Terrie Rankin, volunteer coordinator for the Christmas Wish Request program, many seniors live at or below the poverty line, and on a fixed income. The Christmas Wish Request program for seniors relies solely on the generosity of the community. And, Rankin said, that generosity is overwhelming.”A lot of [seniors] are very private and very proud,” Rankin said. “They wish they didn’t have to ask.”Some seniors don’t fill out the gift wish form, but the gifts that are requested range from “surprise me,” to “chocolate cake.” The wishes are as simple as a cookie jar, Rankin explained, to something as necessary as an electric heating blanket for an elderly woman with unaffordable heating bills.And the response from the community last year was enough to give at least one gift to every senior who wished for it.The donations to the seniors council, such as DMB/Highlands Group’s recent 20-turkey gift for Meals on Wheels clients on Thanksgiving, are unsolicited. For Thanksgiving, the Anne Graham family and Sierra Bible Church are hosting the fourth annual luncheon for seniors on Thursday at 11 a.m. Special events like this held for the seniors are directly a result of community involvement.Those who participate in the gift program often learn about it through word of mouth. They then contact Rankin, pick from a list, shop for it, wrap it and take it by a drop-off location. The gifts are then delivered about a week before Christmas. In addition to the regular lunches at the senior apartments, the council’s Meals on Wheels services have expanded to the West Shore to reach more seniors in the community. As a result, the council’s accessibility to the senior population has increased. Seniors council executive director Melanie Kauffman described their goal of enhancing the quality of life for seniors, advocating for them and serving as a resource provider. Last year, the seniors council organized a senior needs assessment survey. Out of 3,000-plus residents sent the survey, 500 responded. The needs identified by the seniors in the survey, such as better exercise and fitness programs, cultural and lifelong education, are being used to guide the council’s five-year strategic plan.The seniors council has also created many partnerships with community groups, a few being the North Tahoe and Tahoe City Public Utility districts, Placer and Nevada Countys’ Department of Health and Human Services and Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee. “By working with these groups, we are able to become more proactive to respond to these issues,” Kauffman said. “There’s a lot of community members that are willing to step up to the plate.”For more information on the Truckee Tahoe Seniors Council, their Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon or their Christmas Gift Wish Program, call 587-4611.