Elf to an Elder Program

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By Melissa R. Collum 

 

During the holidays we often think about children who may be going without gifts and holiday cheer. The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) has created a program that enables the community to bring holiday cheer to the older generation. The Elf to an Elder program began in 2020. “A lot of people were feeling socially isolated and the ADRC wanted to bring something fun to our home delivery meal participants. It is also for those in the community who do not have family or friends in the area. A lot of individuals do not have family support,” states Roby Fuller, Director, ADRC of Eagle Country – Prairie du Chien Office. 

The program operates much like adopting a child for Christmas. Members of the ‘Elder’ community are asked to sign up or are signed up by friends or family who know that extra holiday cheer may be needed. The ‘Elder” responds to a number of prompts that help the ‘Elf’ find the right gifts. “Last year there was a gentleman who’s wife has passed away and all he wanted was a homemade carrot cake,” recalls Fuller. “His wife would make one every year for Christmas. The ‘elf’ was great, she came in and said ‘I have never done this before in my life. But I pealed the carrots and grated them and I hope it is all right.’ ”

The ‘Elder’ forms need to be returned to the ADRC by December 2 so that the ‘Elf’ has enough time to shop. The ADRC staff matches the ‘elder’ and the ‘elf’ and sends the pertinent information to the ‘elf’. Gifts need to be the ADRC by Dec. 12 so that gift distribution can begin the following week. The cost of the sponsorship is whatever the ‘elf’ wants to contribute to make the holiday season special. “They choose what they want to get them off the list,” states Fuller.  “It is really heart warming because their  lists are normally things like new socks, or underwear. It is never really a huge ask or something that is super elaborate.”

Fuller recalls a story from 2020 when a home deliver participate put on the list ‘Something I would really like is a new refrigerator - Ha , ha, ha.’ The ‘elf’ who was assigned to this ‘elder’, called the ADRC office and asked if the person really needed a new refrigerator. The home meal delivery driver was asked if this was the case and there truly was the need. “The ‘elf’ purchased a new refrigerator for the person and had Rockweiler install it. It was great. Super heart warming stories come out of the program,” reminisces Fuller. 

In 2020 there were 62 participants in the program and in 2021, there were 65. Of the 2020 participants, about 80% were home delivery meal participants. Anyone over  the age of 60 is welcome and encouraged to participate and you do not have to be a member of the meals program.  “We hope the program grows. As long as we have enough ‘elves’ for ‘elders’ it will continue,” comments Fuller.” 

If you would like to sign up for the program, please fill out the form on PAGE seven and return to the ADRC office. You can also call and sign up via phone. If you would like to be an Elf, contact the ADRC. Sign up and contact information on PAGE  seven. 

As a smile radiates across her face, Fuller comments, “It does not take a lot of money or a lot of time. Just the ability to give that gift. That is pretty rewarding.”

 

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