Schools, government and community organizations teamed up last week to make Valentine’s Day memorable for senior citizens in Scott County.
With the Scott County 4-H program leading the way, well over 100 gift bags packed with goodies were delivered to residents at Huntsville Manor and Oneida Nursing Center, as well as the clients of the Scott County Senior Citizens Center’s F.A.I.T.H. meals program.
Cassie Young, the county’s 4-H agent, called it a “call for service,” with “multiple organizations stepping up to the plate to better serve and love on our elderly citizens.”
Among the organizations taking part, in addition to the Scott County Extension Office and the 4-H program, were the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and students at several local schools, including Burchfield, Oneida Elementary, Huntsville Elementary and Oneida Middle School.
“This service project could not have been accomplished without so many great organizations coming together and putting others’ needs before their own,” Young said. “I love our partners and the impacts we have when we all work as a team.”
The program started in 2017, when the Chamber of Commerce and Upward Bound teamed up to deliver valentine cards and gifts to senior citizens. This year, though, the 4-H involvement kicked it up a gear. Through a 4-H Mentoring Program grant, Young and 4-H administrative assistant Stephanie Boyatt purchased nearly $5,000 worth of goodies for more than 150 Blessing Bags. Among the items included were word search and crossword puzzles, adult coloring books, colored pencils, chapstick, lotion, hand sanitizers, socks, fleece blankets, games, hard candy, puzzles, Kleenex and more.
In addition, elementary-age students at Burchfield, Huntsville and Oneida made cards for the bags. Then, Oneida Middle School principal Kelly Posey and a group of students put their 4-H pledge into action by using their “hands for larger service” to put the 163 tote bags together.
Senior Citizens Center director Kathy Rose agreed to deliver 32 Blessing Bags with hot meals that went to 32 homebound seniors throughout the community. The remaining 131 bags were delivered by Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips and a team of his law enforcement officers to residents at Huntsville Manor and Oneida Nursing Center.
“I approached Ronnie Phillips to tell him I had committed him to helping out with our service project and he simply replied with, ‘How can I help?’ without even asking any questions,” Young said. “He’s always so great to assist with anything we need through the UT-TSU Extension Office…He and his deputies quite literally lifted a weight off my shoulders by delivering these Blessing Bags to the nursing home residents.”
In all, 76 residents at Huntsville Manor and 55 at Oneida Nursing Center received the bags.
“There were so many people who stepped up and did stuff,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stacey Swann. “We’re already looking at future projects that will allow us to team up with the Extension Office.”
Swann credited Young for “buying every single thing locally” to complete the $5,000 purchase and fill the Blessing Bags.