A McAlester organization is working to help bring holiday cheer to residents of local nursing homes.
Stacey James, business development coordinator for HealthBack Home Health, said the organization's upcoming annual holiday drive has a goal of providing gift bags for 500 residents of five nursing home in McAlester for Christmas.
"We just don't want anyone to be left out on Christmas," James said.
Some of the items the organization is accepting for the drive include throw blankets, lotions, body wash, and shampoos.
But after long-term care facilities underwent precautions to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, James said she wanted to give the elderly some fun things to do too.
"I put crosswords puzzle, crayons and coloring books on the list this year because some of these people haven't got to have visitors for months now and a lot of them are isolated to their rooms," she said.
The event started five years ago as a Christmas toy drive for local foster children.
James said she strives to do anything she can to help foster children, including three of her own, but soon saw a greater need among the elderly in the area for the holidays.
"Last year there were already a couple other people doing stuff for foster kids so I thought 'well, I want to do something for someone that might not be getting anything,"' she said.
She said last year was the first time the event focused on getting donations for residents at local nursing homes — and she believes it went well.
She said children delivered items to nursing homes and they were met by smiling faces from the residents.
As visitation restrictions are still in place to prevent community spread, James said she hopes the drive will help bring holiday cheer to some people who have missed social interaction.
Anyone who wishes to donate toward the annual drive can drop off items or monetary donations at the HealthBack Home Health offices at 1102 E. Washington Ave. in McAlester by Dec. 1.
She said monetary donations were helpful last year as the organization was able to purchase more items in bulk to provide for the residents.
All items will be delivered to local nursing homes in time for Christmas.
James said she is thankful for the area businesses, organizations, and individuals who have pitched in to help each year to spread holiday cheer.
She also is encouraging youth groups to write holiday cards to go with the gift bags for each resident.
Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org