Let’s face it: the holidays can be just as hectic as they can be wonderful. The logistics of it all: the travel, holiday shopping, having the kids/grandkids around with school off. It can be overwhelming!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays meant to be celebrated with family and friends where we give thanks for our many blessings. But as we all know, some are not quite so fortunate. It is a time of year that can be especially difficult on the most vulnerable in our society: the very young and old.
When making your holiday shopping list, think about setting time aside to volunteer and/or donate money to help the elderly in need. We’ve created this helpful volunteer guide to give you some ideas on how to give back during the holidays in Wake County.
Seven reasons the elderly need your help:
-Close to 29% or 13.6 million seniors live alone. (Source)
-23% or nearly one in four people over 65 do not drive. It’s the main reason people isolate themselves and this exacerbates health issues like poor nutrition and depression. (Source)
-More than 10 million Americans age 50 and older struggle every day with limited or inadequate access to affordable, nutritious food. (Source)
-1 million homebound seniors are malnourished. (Source)
-The highest rate of suicide by Americans are those age 65 and older. (Source)
-87% of Americans receiving long-term care at home get care from family and friends. (Source)
Donate your time:
Meals on Wheels – Many older adults are unable to maintain a balanced diet can due to disability requiring a wheelchair (17% of adults 65 to 74 years old and 33% of adults in NC age 74 and older are movement-impaired) for the elderly who cannot move on their own. The Wake County Meals on Wheels organization has several ways to help seniors in need. Start up a collection in your neighborhood or office to donate items like clothing and household stables as a group gift. Donate gift cards that provide meals for seniors in the names of family and friends. Sponsor a delivery route to deliver meals and gift bags.
Warmth for Wake – During the cold winter months, many low-income residents of Wake County are unable to heat their homes. This program, co-sponsored by the Wake County Human Services and North Carolina Bankers Association, provides firewood to these families to offset the costs of gas/electric heaters.
The program runs from October to March (if needed) and needs volunteers throughout the time frame. They also gladly accept wood, equipment, and space heater donations, provided that the items meet their requirements.
Center for Volunteer Caregiving – Caregiving can take its toll on a family caregiver and the effect is amplified with the stresses that come with the holiday season. The Center provides support for caregivers by training/providing volunteers to offer quality companionship to seniors. Family members are use this free time to recuperate and attend to their own needs. The Center also assigns volunteers to complete housework, paperwork, and transportation if needed.
Donate your money:
Wake County Holiday Cheer – Register to sponsor children and seniors in need. Financial contributions go toward practical items for families like gas, groceries, and household necessities.
Guiding Lights NC –Guiding Lights is a great organization that provides family and professional caregivers support. The work of caregivers can be especially taxing during the holidays when support is needed more than ever. Some of the services they provide include skills workshops, CPR & First Aid training, Dementia training, and much more.
Alzheimer’s North Carolina, Inc. - Alzheimer’s North Carolina is dedicated to providing education, support and services to individuals with dementia, their families, health care professionals and the general public while raising awareness and funding for research of a cause(s), treatment, prevention and cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Livestrong at the YMCA - LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a program for adult cancer survivors, including senior citizens. They participate in a YMCA health and fitness program in a small group setting and donations go toward keeping the program available to any qualified survivor, regardless of their ability to pay.
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina – This organization aims to reach their goal of providing 2.5 million meals to North Carolinians in need before December 31st. A gift of $85, for example, provides groceries to an elderly couple for over four months. A big bonus is the Food Bank will match donations of up to $56,000 through December 31st. You can donate on behalf of yourself or in a loved one and/or friend’s name as a gift.