MILTON — Santa should be adding several people to his "Nice List" as they stepped up to make the Christmas holiday brighter for 100 seniors on Christmas Day. The Guy Thompson Community Center hosted its annual Senior Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 25 followed by some fun and laughs with rousing games of white elephant bingo.
This year’s Senior Christmas Luncheon fell into jeopardy when the Milton Senior Program members learned one of their primary organizations was unable to help.
Several organizations became busy elves, as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Santa Rosa County, UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, UF/IFS Extension Family Nutrition Program, Blackwater Pyrates, and the Santa Rosa County Home Community Educators (HCE) and chef du jour Bubba Drinkard pulled their various resources together to make sure there would be a Christmas Senior Luncheon for seniors who would be alone this holiday.
"When we learned that Christmas for the seniors in our community might be in jeopardy, that was unacceptable," said Milton Senior Program Coordinator Joe Paschal. "We decided this could not happen, so we went to work pooling the resources we had in the community.
"Thanks to everyone involved, 100 seniors will have a delicious Christmas lunch and will not be alone this holiday."
Businesses such as the GEO Foundation, Pen Air Credit Union, Ameriprise Financial, Culpepper Printing, Granny Nannies, Hall’s Hardware, Arby’s, Alyssa’s, Santa Rosa County Federal Credit Union, Moser’s Framery, The Chicken Coop, Panera Bread, Santa Rosa Medical Center, Ellis Crane Works, and Buffalo Rock all contributed in one way or another to make this event possible. Decorations were provided by the Milton Garden Club and the Open Rose florist. They were then given away.
Besides a delicious and nutritious Christmas meal, the event offered something to the seniors that money cannot buy.
"Socialization is critical to a senior’s well-being especially around the holidays, not just Christmas," said RSVP of Santa Rosa County Director Faye Henry. "Many times seniors will be home alone due to family being out of town, unable to come home or worse yet, all of their family or friends are no longer around.
"This event fills so many needs on so many levels, that losing it would be tragic."
Members of the Santa Rosa County HCE along with members of the UF/IFS Extension Family Nutrition Program gathered to start making preparations for the Christmas meal, while also working on taking care of their own families.
"As soon as I mentioned the need, I saw a tremendous response from the UF/IFS Extension Family Nutrition program staff, the Santa Rosa County HCE ladies, and members of the Blackwater Pyrates," said Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Ginny Hinton. "We are a part of Milton and Santa Rosa County. We believe in giving back to the community!
"This is one way we can do our part."
This annual event is just one of the many programs put on through the Milton Community Center Senior Program.
"We are so very thankful for each organization and what they are doing. There are just not enough words or ways we can express our gratitude," said Paschal.
For more information about Senior Program at The Guy Thompson Community Center and its offerings, visit www.miltonfl.org/205/Senior-Citizens-Program.