“I feel like so many times the elderly in our nursing homes get forgotten,” said Kyle Cameron of her Smiles for Seniors effort amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I knew the kids were already taken care of. This town has been amazing taking care of them like they have, but I wanted our seniors to know they were taken care of too.”
It started with a Facebook post in the Hillsboro-CAN group, asking for volunteers to help her on the project. Before long, she had ten to 12 volunteers and enough money to make goodie bags for 180 seniors at Tremont Ridge Assisted Living Facility, Hillsboro Rehabilitation and Health Care Center and Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
More than 40 of the members of the Hillsboro-CAN group on Facebook donated from $5 to $50, with additional donations from Dollar General in Hillsboro and Schram City and IGA in Hillsboro.
Five of the volunteers and their families made personalized cards for each of the goodie bags, and the leftover cards were distributed to the two nursing homes to hang in the hallways as encouragement to residents and staff.
Cameron said she had two other volunteers, Carol Naylor and Robin Andrews, who helped with the shopping efforts and packing the goodie bags on Saturday, March 28.
“Everyone has just been so generous in this trying time,” she said.
After the shopping, Cameron, Naylor and Andrews met at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church where they sorted and sanitized all the items. Cameron said they watched a video on the best practices to sanitize items for seniors in nursing homes.
Then, they made an assembly line to fill goodie bags with a wide variety of snacks, drink mix, Kleenex, socks, Easter candy, handkerchiefs and more.
In addition, they filled three big bags, one for each facility, with items that can be used by the activity department, like coloring books and colored pencils, activity books and word searches, dominoes, card games, puzzles, art projects, sticker books, nail polish and two blankets.
All the care packages were delivered to the three centers on Sunday, March 29.
“I feel so blessed to have been able to do something like this in our community,” Cameron said. “I hope it makes our seniors feel safer and remember how much we care about them.”