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Honor Seniors

Older adults are often the best storytellers in the family. Their memories, traditions and talents are just waiting to be shared. But as we approach the holiday season, many older citizens won’t be near their families because they live far apart.

What better way to honor seniors in your family and community and pay tribute to their experiences than by undertaking a project together this holiday season. There are a wide range of projects that individuals, families, and social and service organizations can participate in with older adults. In fact, it is a great opportunity for youth-oriented organizations such as school groups or scout troops to get involved with seniors, according to Betsy Reithemeyer, director of the Wal-Mart/SAM’S CLUB Foundation, which funds thousands of projects designed to enhance the lives of older adults. This year the Foundation donated $1.45 million to more than 2,900 youth groups for projects benefiting seniors.

“These activities bring generations together, nurture friendships, encourage volunteerism, and broaden understanding and support in a community,” says Reithemeyer.

Here are a few project suggestions for this holiday season:

* Host a storytelling time for older adults to relate their favorite holiday memories.

* Visit an elderly resident of a nursing home. Many of these individuals never have a visitor at holiday time and would appreciate having someone stop by to share a smile.

*Make a holiday greeting card for residents at a retirement center.

* Make a family photo album as a holiday gift to the family, complete with dates, locations and identifications of family members. Share stories about special events the family enjoyed together.

* Construct a family tree, giving children the opportunity to learn the ancestral line of their family. Strive to preserve particular ethnic or religious beliefs and special holiday traditions.

* Ask a senior to share special talents, such as cooking, sculpting or quilting, which can be passed on to interested young people.

* Volunteer at a nutrition center or with Meals-on-Wheels to prepare and deliver holiday meals or food baskets to elderly shut-ins.

* Design a Web page about a grandparent or favorite older adult.

* Videotape an interview with a senior about his or her life. Show it at a meeting of a youth organization and invite the star of the show to attend.

* Host a game day at a senior center featuring traditional board games enjoyed by young and old alike.

Wal-Mart provides financial support to 501(c)3 youth groups for intergenerational projects every year. Each store makes a donation to fund projects such as delivering fruit baskets to shut-ins, providing lunch for grandparents at a local food kitchen, conducting oral history projects with local centenarians, and visiting nursing home residents whose family members live far away.

“Older adults are a vibrant, contributing part of our communities,” says Reithemeyer. “They have a great deal of wisdom and insight to share, and they deserve to be honored.” The Wal-Mart/SAM’S CLUB Foundation funds the many projects chosen by the company’s associates through the Wal-Mart Good Works community involvement program.

Whether you choose to do a project in a youth group, as a family, or on your own, the holidays are the perfect time to bring together youth and seniors in your community.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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