"Everybody wants to be remembered at Christmas," said Erica Brewer, district social worker for Moore County Hospital District (MCHD). She and Jennefier Allison, director of Memorial Home Health and Hospice (MHHH) were in the foyer of the MHHH office at 209 South Bliss Wednesday next to a Christmas tree that they had set up and decorated. Among the decorations on the tree were more than forty cards. Written on the cards was the code name, the gender, and the Christmas wishes of an elderly patient using home health or hospice services in Moore, Hartley, and Sherman counties. Some of the cards represented people under the protection and care of Adult Protective Services, the state agency that intervenes on behalf of adults no longer able to protect themselves from abuse or neglect. Allison and Brewer are asking members of the community to stop by, pick up a card, and bring a little Christmas joy to someone facing a less than happy holiday.
"These folks are very ill. Some of them are alone. They just need someone to care about them. This is our way of showing that we do care," said Brewer. She said community members are welcome to "adopt" one or more, as many as they want, of the people represented by the tags. The real name of the patient is kept confidential. People can purchase all of the items on the list or just some of them. She asks that everything be brought in a bag with the tag attached to the MHHH office by December 11, the last day to adopt a patient.
Brewer said the most popular items for the patients are often the simplest and the most practical: warm throws, new pajamas, house shoes, jigsaw puzzles, toiletries. "Some people just want Little Debbie snacks," she said. Electric blankets are popular, as are grocery gift cards. "That is like gold to these folks."
Once the presents are brought to the office, Brewer says staff wrap them and deliver them to the very appreciative patients. "It means that somebody remembered them. … At least somebody thought of them. Even if they don't know them, it's just somebody out there is thinking of somebody else. And that is especially important during this time of COVID, being separated from their loved ones, maybe not feeling comfortable getting together. Even if you are all masked up and socially distanced, some people are still very fearful."
Brewer says the benefits of the program extend beyond those receiving the gifts. "We love doing this. It brings a lot of joy to us to see how caring everyone is." She says she is especially happy to do things for the elderly. "There are a lot of things for children, and there should be, but we should never forget our elders, because they raised us, and so we want to take care of them too."