Good Deeds: Kindness and volunteerism are bountiful at Grace Ridge

Whether it’s coloring a card for a hometown soldier, stuffing a backpack with food for hungry children or loading a stocking full of games and puzzles for hospice patients, the opportunities to perform Good Deeds are plentiful at Grace Ridge this holiday season.

With the fourth quarter Well4Life rewards program focusing on volunteerism and community relations, it’s a chance for residents and staff to share kindness with people in the community who are less fortunate. “This is a time of year when there are so many needs in our community,” said Evelyn Beaver, director of life enrichment. “We wanted to offer different projects that would be meaningful for our residents and allow them to lend a hand in areas they are passionate about.”

Not all activities require a financial commitment, allowing residents and staff of all income levels to participate. Some plan to roll up their sleeves and help prepare food for the homeless at The Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry at Burke United Christian Ministries, while others will fill backpacks with beans, rice and peanut butter for hungry children through the Backpack Ministry at Grace Episcopal Church.

For The Meeting Place Mission, volunteers will make travel kits – zip-close bags filled with hotel-sized shampoo, soap and lotion. Meanwhile, other residents and staff are donating basic medical supplies, like aspirin and anti-itch cream, for Dr. William Johanson’s upcoming Health Teams International mission trip to Haiti.

A group of Grace Ridge “elves” is stuffing stockings with puzzles, candy, games, tissues, lotion, snacks and fuzzy gripper socks that will be delivered to area Medicaid facilities through Burke Hospice & Palliative Care’s Samaritan’s Stockings program.

“We love what we’re doing because we have so many things going on to help people in the community who don’t have any family or other support. We’re going to have a nice assortment of items to give them,” said resident Betty Ann Elmore, who recently spent a rainy afternoon purchasing stocking items at the Dollar Tree.

Some are using their creative skills to spread holiday cheer through homemade cards for health care center residents, local nursing homes and soldiers with the 1450th TC Lenoir National Guard. “I really enjoy making cards and felt this was a small way I could make a contribution,” said longtime Grace Ridge resident Betty Hammond, a former home economics teacher who’s been crafting cards for the past 25 years.

Another Well4Life activity will center on honoring local police officers and firefighters who protect and support Grace Ridge’s residents and staff. “We’ve been talking about having an Appreciation Day for our local emergency responders for quite some time,” Evelyn said. “We’ll host a luncheon on Nov. 16 to give our residents the chance to sit down with an officer or firefighter, share a meal with them and thank them for all they do.”

With the Grace Ridge mailroom temporarily turned into Santa’s Workshop, empty boxes are starting to fill with donated and handmade items. The collection will culminate on Dec. 18 when residents and staff present their “gifts” to local nonprofit agencies. Added Evelyn, “Everyone is excited for this chance to share loving kindness with others and bring together these wonderful groups that have done so much for our community.”