Meals on Wheels recipients receive holiday gifts thanks to Black Hills Advocate’s Elder Tree Program

RAPID CITY, S.D. – For its second year, Meals on Wheels recipients got a little holiday bonus with their food delivery thanks to the help from Black Hills Advocate and its Elder Tree Program. Gifts were delivered at the same time as meals from Meals on Wheels, Western South Dakota.

What items did people donate?

Items that Black Hills Advocate was looking for included:

  • Soft blankets
  • Warm socks
  • Hats, gloves and scarves
  • Large print puzzle books
  • Boxes of tea and mugs
  • Men and women’s toiletry baskets
  • Packaged snacks and simple food items
  • Poinsettias
Elder Tree Delivery

Meals on Wheels recipient reacts to getting an additional gift during the meal delivery. (Mackenzie Dahlberg, NewsCenter1)

Who ended up donating?

Anyone from the community could have offered an item or two, which many did.

There were also a few organizations that donated an assortment of items including:

22 photos of present and meal deliveries:

Who helped deliver?

Volunteers and the Meals on Wheels, Western South Dakota staff helped deliver the gifts.

“Our full staff has been down here for a week, bagging up all these gifts and choosing gifts for every participant. And then volunteers are delivering them along with our volunteer meal delivery drivers every day,” Susan Hardina, development coordinator for Meals on Wheels, Western South Dakota, said.

Volunteers could either help deliver the gifts or meals, with some having helped before and some for the first time.

Why do the organizations and volunteers continue doing this program?

“I know there’s so many people that might not have family or can’t get out as easy. So, I’m happy that we can bring some Christmas cheer to them or holiday cheer to them,” Kinsey Whidby, volunteer for the Elder Tree Program. “I’m excited to just see, hopefully, people smile and just be happy that they’re going to have some gifts to open up on Christmas Day. I’m just happy to help out and bring some cheer to people.”

Meal volunteers also get to share the joy with people they see often this time of year.

“Even though she’s in a wheel chair, she’s able to get around a little bit by moving her feet. She was given some grippy socks,” Dan Anderson, volunteer for Meals on Wheels, said. “When she was a kid, she also liked puppets. So, these grippy socks were kind of like in the shape of a puppet. So, the first thing she did was she put them on her hand. And when we first showed up, she wasn’t, you know, in a great holiday mood, festive mood. But by the time she left, she was beaming from ear to ear. So, that was the joy of Christmas for us.”

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