Holy Family volunteers brighten homebound seniors’ holidays

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Over the Christmas holiday week, most everybody in Franklin County was busy with everything from shopping for gifts to put under their tree, to entertaining friends and family.

The same is true over Thanksgiving weekend, when the Christmas season holiday traditionally gets fully underway.

But for a band of dedicated volunteers, and a supportive community, this is a  time to make sure the county’s seniors are getting the meals they need to make for a joyous celebration.

Beginning with Thanksgiving dinners donated by the Owl Cafe, the season has meant that the Elder Care Community Council of Franklin County, and its volunteer crew, has delivered meals to seniors on the west side of the river, as well as some in Eastpoint.

Valentina Webb, president of the ECCC, said this year about 120 seniors each receive along with their meals a gift of $10 plus greeting cards created by schoolkids at Project Impact. 

Volunteers from Trinity Episcop[al Church have been baking cookies for the seniors, plus there have been donations, both cash and in-kind, from the Parrot Head Club of the Forgotten Coast.

When the ECCC needed food boxes, which have doubled in price, Half Shell Dockside and Tamara’s Cafe both were there to donate, and Water Street Seafood has helped out as well..

“The local restaurants have been really good to us,” said Webb. “We’ve never been told no. We really have strong support from the community.”
The Area Agency on Aging, Inc. funnels $10,000 in state dollars through the county to support the ECCC, but the costs are such that private-sector donations are essential to helping the county’s seniors.

Betsy Nofziger, the ECCC’s secretary/treasurer, said that more than 18,000 meals have been distributed to seniors in 2021, with each having a price tag, when all expenses are figured in, of between $8 and $12 each. The grocery bill alone is about $3,000 every three months, Webb said.

“It’s amazing how many people love seniors,” said Webb. “When they see what we’re doing, they don’t mind giving. We are so grateful.”

It’s not just about food, especially during the coronavirus pandemic that has kept a lot of seniors bound to their homes.

Webb said volunteers often perform well checks, or they’ll remind seniors about getting their vaccinations and booster shots. 

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