Director of Volunteer Services
| ||Barbara Bush|
The temperatures soared into the high 80s and maybe even tipped into the 90s.
No snow was in sight. St. Nick? The jolly old fellow with the red suit probably was enjoying his summer vacation.
But the Christmas spirit was prevalent at the John Kane Center in Ross Township as the facility teamed with AARP to celebrate Christmas in July during a gift-wrapping event at the Shoppes at Northway mall in McCandless on July 8-9. The annual gift wrapping event takes place during the heat of summer but brings smiles to the faces of residents at Kane Ross and the three other Kane facilities in Allegheny County when the snow is flying in December.
The gift-wrapping event is part of PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS®, a community outreach program operated by St. Barnabas Charities in Gibsonia. St. Barnabas partners with the AARP during the programs at each of the four Kane Regional Centers.
The goal of the PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® program is to match each resident with a gift and a visitor. The gift-wrapping session at Northway mall certainly will help in that area. A total of 177 large boxes including approximately 6,500 gifts and toiletries was inventoried after the two-day event. The presence of 75 volunteers made a huge impact too.
“We think the event was very successful,” said Barbara Bush, AARP’s statewide chair of the volunteer development task force and the regional lead in southwestern Pennsylvania. “The mall was a perfect location. The response was tremendous. We had so many people come in and volunteer on each day. It was so rewarding. We’re still getting people who will call and say they read about it and have donations for us to pick up.
“The entire process fit in perfectly with AARP’s ‘Create the Good’ theme that encourages people to assist their neighbors or their community by donating or volunteering to help in small increments of time to ‘Create the Good’ for all.”
The large response was appreciated by administrators, staff and residents at Kane Ross, as well as the three other Kane facilities in Scott Township, McKeesport and Glen Hazel.
“We have a show at each Kane center at Christmas time,” said Sue Crump, director of volunteer services at Kane Ross. “They go room to room and hand out the presents. It’s a much-anticipated event and it really brightens up the spirits of our residents and staff.”
Presents are collected and wrapped nearly year-round, beginning in January, right after the last batch of presents had been presented. The task presents a big challenge and depends on the efforts of many volunteers.
“For the four Kane centers alone we do more than 2,000 presents, plus they make up little bags of shampoo and perfumes,” Crump said. “It’s been a big, big help. It’s a very nice event. We’ve been doing it for almost 10 years now. It started out at Ross and expanded from there. The event has expanded to maybe six other facilities in addition to Kane.”
The gift-wrapping event that took place at the Shoppes at Northway mall near the Kane building in Ross Township is only part of a year-long process.
“We start wrapping in January and wrap gifts all year long,” Crump said. “We do the Christmas in July wrapping at the mall. They have a storage unit.”
Volunteers were asked to bring new or “gently used” items to the mall as a donation and then spend some time wrapping presents.
The Kane facilities and PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® have formed a winning team for nearly a decade.
“Our relationship with Kane began in 2002,” Bush said. “This is our ninth year that we are doing the Kane facilities. This is in partnership with PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS and we’re tying it in with Creating the Good, another AARP program. We’re weaving this together.
“In 2002 there were 350 residents at Kane Ross. The next year we added Kane McKeesport. The following year we added Scott and Glen Hazel. Additionally we’ve picked up facilities in Washington County, Indiana County and throughout Allegheny County.”
For more information contact Sue Crump, director of volunteer services at Kane Ross, at 412.369.2083, or Barbara Bush, volunteer development task force chair for AARP, at 412.761.1549.