Memory care-themed donations to aid seniors

Staff photo by katherine Glosser From left, United Way of Greater Nashua Director of Community Impact Liz Fitzgerald looks at some of the donated items to ShoeBox for Seniors Project with Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement Sara Ceaser.

NASHUA – As November nears, people are doing what they can to prepare for the holidays. Nonprofits such as the United Way of Greater Nashua are working on collecting donations and making preparations for a program called the ShoeBox for Seniors Project.

The United Way of Greater Nashua’s ShoeBox Project Kit Building Day is set for 1:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Nashua Senior Center 70 Temple St., Nashua. Collections for seniors in need will be taken until Nov. 16.

The program is an annual collection of items for senior citizens in need. The items go into a shoebox for presentation to recipients.

United Way Director of Community Impact Liz Fitzgerald said the program works with senior citizens in a high risk category; those who live near or at the poverty line and those who do not have a social support network.

Officials determine who would fall into that category from organizations such as Meals for Wheels, Gateway Adult Health Center and the Nashua Senior Activity Center.

The program is in its third year. The first year saw organizers focus on providing hygiene items to seniors, such as lip balm, lotion and soap. Last year, the theme was emergency preparedness, as seniors received emergency kits.

This year, the theme is memory care. Some of the items being collected are games, books, puzzles, Sudoku, adult coloring books, photo albums and journals.

According to Fitzgerald, the brain continues to grow throughout a person’s whole life. Seniors who spend the day in the same spot watching TV, she said, do not have their brain engaged in a healthy way.

“If you want to keep your brain healthy and growing, you have to really engage it,” Fitzgerald said.

One of the places helping out ShoeBox is the Nashua Senior Activity Center. Executive Director Margo Bell has been collaborating with Fitzgerald. Bell said this will be the first year the center became involved with the program. Bell said she was happy people are thinking of seniors who are homebound and need more attention.

“It’s just nice to know that they’re still being thought of even though they are homebound,” Bell said. “I think it’s important to give back.”

Center receptionist Catherine Wetherbee said the project is beneficial.

“I think it’s a really worthwhile project,” Wetherbee said. “It’s doing something that needs to be done. Everyone needs help.”

The goal is to make 350 boxes, an amount organizers achieved in previous years. People, businesses and organizations are assisting with the program. Even children and high schoolers are helping. Children will be making decorated boxes in which to place donated items, while high school students will help assemble and distribute the boxes.

Among the places helping with ShoeBox are Enterprise Bank, Southern New Hampshire Health, St. Joseph Hospital and Bridges Senior Memory Care.

“We’re really grateful for the outpouring of support that we’re getting,” Fitzgerald said. United Way is currently collecting items for the program and will continue to do so until Nov. 16. The boxes will be distributed sometime after Thanksgiving.

Some of the places people can drop off their items in Nashua are Enterprise Bank, People’s United Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, Bridges and United Way.

How to Help

The United Way of Greater Nashua’s ShoeBox Project Kit Building Day is set for 1:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Nashua Senior Center 70 Temple St., Nashua. Donations for seniors in need are currently being collected.

For more information, go to: www.volunteergreaternashua.org/need/detail/?need_id=370045, or call 603-882-4011.