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Giving Tree plans in place for multi-county coverage

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Alica Bustamante of the ElderCare staff decorates the Giving Tree at the non-profit agency’s office in Great Bend.

Anyone who knows a senior citizen in Barton, Pawnee, Rush, Stafford, Kiowa and Pratt counties who could benefit from a special giving tree project is encouraged to contact ElderCare in Great Bend.

“Anyone who receives home services in these counties is eligible to have a place on our tree,” said Brandi Gruber, executive director of ElderCare. “Our caregivers offer suggestions because they are our eyes and ears when they visit clients’ homes.

Gruber acknowledged that she was uncertain about pursuing the ElderCare Giving Tree project this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But said she realized that the non-profit agency’s home-services clients deserve a special gift especially during this difficult time.

“It is important, now more than ever, to share the Christmas spirit with one another,” Gruber said. “A lot of older folks are not getting out at all because of COVID and we want to find ways to put smiles on their faces.”

The 2020 Giving Tree, now available at the ElderCare office, 1121 Washington, Great Bend, has been trimmed with decorative tags that represent clients and their particular needs. Actual names are not used because of privacy concerns.

“Choosing a tag will be a bit different this year,” Gruber said. “Those who want to come into our office should call for an appointment. This will allow us to limit the number of people here at any one time.” 

Donors may also call 620-792-5942 or email bgruber@eldercareks.org. 

“We are more than happy to accommodate anyone who wants to make the season a little brighter for our clients,” Gruber said.

Gifts should be returned to the ElderCare office by Dec. 14. They will be delivered by ElderCare care-givers.

This is the fourth year for the local ElderCare Giving Tree project. More than 60 gifts were collected the first year; 90 the second; and 100 last year. The tree provides much-needed items to senior citizens who are short on finances and have limited mobility.

“Many seniors, especially at Christmastime, need to know their neighbors are thinking about them,” Gruber said. “They need some basic items and we encourage businesses and individuals to take on the role of Santa Claus.”

Gifts could include blankets, warm clothing, toiletry items, crossword-puzzle and word-search books, and gift cards for a few staples at the grocery store.

“We also want to ensure that each gift package includes something fun,” Gruber said. “It might be a favorite candy or food item specific to each recipient.”

ElderCare’s home services include personal care, household tasks and respite for caregivers. Registered nurses offer medication management, wellness checks and companionship. The organization currently serves more than 350 clients in the prescribed area.