The Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s Annual Holiday Program not only offers help for families in need, but it also assists seniors in the community. The seniors that will be helped by the program are all receiving services through JFCS. All of the services that JFCS provides seniors – whether it be counseling, case management, advocacy, behavioral health or referrals – are all delivered in their own home.
“One thing most of our senior clients have in common is that they are isolated, they don’t have a lot of support,” explains JFCS’s Jewish Social Services Manager, Kathy Rood, LAC. “A lot of them are also incredibly low income. We have clients who have to choose between buying medication or groceries.”
Through the holiday program, each senior receives a $50 gift card and a bag of gift items. The JFCS is always looking for donations of the gift items. They like to include gifts that the seniors will not only enjoy, but that will benefit them. Items that stimulate the mind are welcome, such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, adult coloring books and supplies, and large print novels. They also like to include utilitarian things such as lap blankets, coffee mugs, flashlights or nightlights and large number calculators. Self-care items are such as toiletries, colognes, cosmetics for women, grooming items and supplies are popular. And they also put some treat in too, such as cookies or candies, tea or coffee.
“When they receive a gift card and a bag of gifts, it touches them deeply. It may be the one gift they get this year,” says Kathy. “It has more than one meaning. It helps them financially, but it also helps them feel like they are a part of something greater. It helps them feel like a part of the community.” Kathy explains that they help Jewish and non-Jewish seniors alike and that theirs is the only program in the Valley that offers assistance for both Chanukah and Christmas. “We help our fellow human beings,” she says.
Kathy says that they receive donations by way of sponsors, new ones and those that return year after year. Contributions also come from individuals who will go shopping for needed items. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of it,” she explains. “We get a lot of monetary donations, too. If a person can’t, or doesn’t want to go out and shop, they can send in money to the program or donate on the JFCS website.”
The program kicks off every year right after Yom Kippur, with a deadline of the first week of December to gather all the items. Anything that they are lacking, Kathy will go on a shopping trip of her own to fill the gaps. “There’s about 10 of us on the older adult ‘team,’ and we have our own holiday gathering once a year and we put the packages together,” she says. Each therapist or caseworker will have their list of people that they’ve submitted to the program and that they are putting the packages together for, so they know these people and keep them in mind when assembling their gifts.
Last year the program helped 90 seniors, the most they’ve ever had. Usually, there are around 70 that receive packages. For more information on the holiday program, contact Kathy Rood directly at 602-452-4627 or email her at Kathy.firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate online, visit jfcsaz.org.