Brightly colored Christmas lights were hung from the rec room’s ceiling in large swoops, lending the whole room a festive air as residents gathered in their Christmas Sweaters to chat over fried chicken and sing along to favorite carols.
Santa called out each of Cross Shores Care Center’s long term care patients by name then delivered them a carefully wrapped gift filled with clothing and other goodies in their size.
“Volunteers from VFW Post 10069, Auxiliary 10069, American Legion Post 116 and the Port Saint Joe Garden Club, along with community members and Gulf Shores staff served the food and spoke with residents while Santa passed out gifts to all,” said Natalie Dolan, the president of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary, after the event.
For some of the residents who attended, the Dec. 23 Christmas party was the only holiday celebration they would get. Dolan said the volunteers and the center’s staff were committed to making it a joyous experience.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 50 percent of nursing home residents have no close relatives, and 46 percent have no living children. Many living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the country never receive visitors, though exact statistics on this number can be difficult to come by.
Dolan said that the VFW stepped in to help after learning that many of Cross Shores Care Center’s recreation room activities had been lost to Hurricane Michael three years prior and had yet to be replaced.
“The Auxiliary purchased several large toys for the facility’s rec room, since all their games, etc. were lost in the hurricane,” she said. Among items donated were a set of cornhole boards, a miniature basketball hoop, inflatable bowling pins and a giant game of four-in-a-row.
The VFW, the Port St. Joe Garden Club and Duren’s Piggly Wiggly donated all the food for the event, which took up most of Thursday afternoon. Greg Wood played Christmas music for the celebration, and many sang along.
As festivities began to wind down and residents returned to their rooms, operations returned to normal at Cross Shores, but the decorations stayed lit in the rec room through the holidays as a reminder of the fun.