MUSCATINE, Iowa–For older adults, winter can pose challenges. To make the season brighter and easier to manage, Senior Resources has developed both its Christmas basket program and snow removal chore worker program.
No matter people’s ages, receiving a gift at the holidays always puts smiles on their faces. Knowing that low-income seniors in the area who did not have friends or family coming to visit could use something to cheer them up at this time of year, Senior Resources started their Christmas basket program in 2010. In late November and early December, community members can call Senior Resources at 563-263-7292 and speak to Outreach Coordinator Laura Vargas or visit the Merrill Hotel’s lobby at 119 West Mississippi Drive in Muscatine to pick up a wish list from their angel tree. Typically, lists include items such as cleaning supplies, personal care items, and some fun things too, such as cozy slippers, various types of puzzle books, or stamps and stationary. Vargas estimated that most Christmas baskets cost about $40 to $100, making it possible for people to give generously to seniors at several price points. Christmas basket donors may drop the baskets off at the recipients’ residence or bring them to Senior Resources by Dec. 15 for one of their volunteers to deliver.
A very successful program, the Christmas basket program has expanded from serving just 75 to helping 220 people last year. Vision 2020 Marketing and Communications Director and Executive Assistant Megan Francis, who assists Senior Resources, welcomes this growth in the program and encourages people to get involved: “The holidays can be a lonely and difficult time for individuals without close family and those facing financial challenges. Everyone deserves a little holiday cheer, especially the seniors who have a long and rich history in our community.”
Even after the holidays end, winter can still feel isolating for older adults because snow and ice can make travel difficult. Fortunately, Senior Resources winter chore workers can help. People over age 60 or those with disabilities who need help clearing their sidewalks and driveways can contact Senior Resources for an application. They offer chore assistance on a sliding fee scale to make it affordable for people in all income ranges. When it snows, a chore worker will come to participating homes and do all of the shoveling or snow-blowing needed, allowing people to move around their properties safely even in poor weather.
Though Muscatine has not gotten very much snow yet, Senior Resources has already started looking for additional chore workers for this winter. Anyone age 16 or older may apply for chore work. Individuals must simply complete a short application and background check provided by senior resources. Chore workers choose where in town they would like to do snow removal and how many houses they feel comfortable with to keep their work manageable. Chore workers may volunteer to do the work or work as independent contractors earning $15 an hour. An excellent opportunity for anyone to give back to the community and for high school students to earn Silver Cord hours, Francis urges anyone interested to apply: “Removing snow for safe passage can pose a safety risk and financial burden on senior homeowners and adults with disabilities. Volunteers and paid chore workers play a vital role in alleviating the stress snow removal causes.”