Meals On Wheels, Girl Scouts partner to bring holiday cheer to Orange County senior citizens
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Meals on Wheels Orange County‘s Adult Day Health Care Center in Santa Ana. The seniors at the center got a visit from Girl Scouts of Orange County on Wednesday afternoon as the girls ushered in the 2023 giving season. Decked out in festive reindeer antlers along with the club’s standard green vests, they spent the afternoon handing out holiday gift bags.
“Today we are starting our annual gift program, which brings cheer to our participants,” said Gio Corzo, vice president of home and care services at Meals On Wheels O.C.
The Girl Scouts decorated the gift bags and tags to give to Meals on Wheels O.C. as part of their community service project. Meals on Wheels O.C. will use the items for its Holiday Gift Program, “Gifting A Year of Smiles,” which provides a gift donated by generous individuals and a special holiday meal to older adults.
“This service project started back in July, and the girls had the idea to decorate bags because Meals on Wheels has a gift giving program but they need to wrap the gifts,” said Shellie Massick, life skills manager, Girl Scouts of O.C. “So the girls made the bags and they advocated for the gift-giving program out to their friends and family, and we spent the summer stuffing bags and getting ready for this event.”
Many of the seniors who benefit from Meals on Wheels O.C. are isolated at home, and visits to the organization’s Adult Day Health Care Center in Santa Ana is one way the seniors can find friends and activities. The center, which also has locations in Anaheim and Buena Park, offers care for adults living at home who need daytime assistance for health and safety.
“Think of us as a senior center, but with a healthcare component,” said program director Yanina Camarillo. “We have a nursing staff here, we have a social work department, we have a therapy department, so they get their exercise every day, and it is all based on a care plan.”
Partnerships with organization like Girl Scouts of O.C. are another way the center helps seniors.
“It takes the stress away and brightens their day,” said Camarillo. “It is bringing the outside in.”
The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Shelley said community service projects are a priority for Girl Scouts and an impactful way to show them they can make a difference in Orange County.
“I think it really taps into their own personal values,” said Massick. “They realize that we are a community, and there are some things that we need fixing in our community, and they’re not powerless. They have the ability to make a difference and to advocate for things that they believe in.”
All Girl Scouts aged 5 to 18 are encouraged to “take action” through community service opportunities, and besides passing out holiday gifts, the girls also sang Christmas carols and made holiday crafts with the seniors. Scouts Elsie and Delaney, both 9, also read a special Christmas story aloud to the seniors gathered at the center.
“The story was based on Rudolph, kind of, but it took a twist,” said Elsie.
“The story was basically about reindeers that got sick on Christmas, but the hot cocoa healed them,” Girl Scout Chiara, 9, chimed in.
The girls said they look forward to their own holiday traditions at home and were happy to help bring some early holiday cheer to the seniors.
“It makes us feel really good that we are helping them and doing something for a really good reason,” said Delaney.
The seniors were also happy to have the Girl Scouts, with one gentleman in a wheelchair asking to be wheeled to the front of the room to thank them. Camarillo translated as the man spoke in Spanish.
“We are super appreciative of the Girl Scouts of Orange County for coming out and making it a special day,” Camarillo said. “Any time that we have visitors they really enjoy it.”
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