The pandemic may have forced Adopt a Grandparent Day to adapt, but the effort to visit, cherish and celebrate local seniors has rebounded stronger than ever. Kathy Rogers, who founded the initiative in 2014 and now serves as executive director, sought to address the epidemic of loneliness among the elderly. On Adopt a Grandparent Day, which falls on Sept. 10 this year (and always falls on the Saturday before National Grandparents Day), hundreds of volunteers visit nursing homes throughout South Mississippi.
Although in-person visits weren’t possible for the last two years, the observance went forward in a different form.
“Even when faced with something like COVID, our team did not back down,” Rogers says. “We came up with the idea for treasure boxes to continue our support.”
Volunteers stepped up to create and help deliver laminated cards, letters, and drawings, as well as decorated treasure boxes stuffed with gifts and prizes for each facility. Individuals, businesses, and community groups made donations from an Amazon Wish List to fill the treasure boxes with enough items for each resident.
“We were so glad to see our Gulf Coast community step up and help ensure our local seniors felt cherished and celebrated, even during a pandemic,” says Board President Kate Black.
In 2021, Adopt a Grandparent reached over 2,300 nursing home residents across 37 facilities. This year, organizers expect to serve even more. One-hour, in-person visits will resume, and the popular treasure boxes also will continue and be delivered on Sept. 10.
As Adopt a Grandparent Day becomes a two-pronged outreach, businesses and organizations are encouraged to adopt a participating facility – which involved buying, decorating, filling, and delivering treasure boxes to their facility and providing volunteers for in-person visits.
The goal, Rogers explains, is that the sponsor will form a bond with the facility and continue offering support year-round.
“If we can help raise awareness, we believe people will begin to make natural connections and ‘adopt’ facilities and residents on their own,” she says. “This is how a real difference can be made.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Adopt a Grandparent Day falls on Saturday, Sept. 10, and is an opportunity to honor the life and value of seniors in our community. Here’s how you can contribute:
1. Create and mail cards, letters, and artwork to 15431 O’Neal Road, Suite B, Gulfport, Mississippi, 39503 by August 26. If you can collect multiple items, a drop-off point can be arranged. These items will be laminated and included in the treasure boxes.
2. Volunteer to help laminate items. Laminating Days will be held Tuesday, Aug. 23, and Tuesday, Aug. 30, 9 am – 1 pm.
3. Pick up and decorate a treasure box and return it to the address above by Aug. 19.
4. Buy items from the Amazon Wish List and have them shipped directly to Adopt a Grandparent to be received by Aug. 26. The wish list can be found at www.adoptagrandparentday.org on the “Volunteer Events” page.
5. Consider having your business or organization adopt a facility and accept the task of completing and delivering the treasure box yourself. Monetary donations are welcome to help purchase items for the facilities.
6. Volunteer to help pack treasure boxes at the Packing Party on Saturday, Sept. 3 from 10-11 am at 14281 O’Neal Road, Gulfport (Northwood Church).
7. Volunteer to visit residents in person on Sept. 10. Volunteers will spend one hour with the seniors, participating in games and activities.
For more information and to register for any of these volunteer opportunities, call (228) 206-5902 or visit www.adoptagrandparentday.org.