Project Deliver the LOVE to bring joy to local elderly

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Elder loneliness is a silent epidemic affecting the health and well-being of our “invisible elders” right here in Perry and Dallas County. Pre COVID-19 pandemic studies showed that more than 40% of those age 65 and over regularly experience loneliness. One study during the pandemic in June 2020 reported 56% feeling isolated.

These feelings of separation, disconnection and isolation can lead to serious health problems, such as depression, weight loss and cognitive decline and can increase the likelihood of death.

Project Deliver the LOVE is a fun way for the community to StepUp together with the Perry Lutheran Homes to celebrate, serve, engage and connect with elderly citizens. Two hundred volunteers will be joining in the fun and will Deliver the LOVE to nearly 350 elderly citizens on Wednesday, May 12.

Project Deliver the LOVE was inspired both by the Perry Lutheran Homes’ StepUp Movement (Serving Together our Elders with Passion) to take notice of and StepUp to serve elders that are lonely, afraid, hungry or forgotten and by past initiatives to bring the community together to fight hunger through 100,000 meals packed in four years at the Perry Lutheran Homes through Meals from the Heartland.

Volunteers are needed to sign up for one-hour shifts anytime from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can choose either to assemble baskets or hand-deliver the “love” or both! Sign up easily online on the Perry Lutheran Homes website or contact Sara Nefzger at the Perry Lutheran Homes at snefzger@perrylutheranhomes.org or 515-465-5316.

“The community of Perry and Dallas County has too many elderly citizens who are lonely,” said Melissa Gannon, chief operating officer and administrator of the Perry Lutheran Homes. “Some are afraid and hungry. Many feel forgotten. Nothing is more exciting to see than the community SteppingUp and making sure we do everything we can to celebrate, honor, connect with and take care of our elderly people physically, mentally, spiritually and more.”

Community members are encouraged to think about elders they know who are age 75 or older, live in Perry, or within a 10-mile radius of Perry, and would experience joy by receiving a personal delivery and a basket filled with food, fun and encouragement. Submit elders’ names on the Perry Lutheran Homes website.

“The goal for Project Deliver the LOVE is that the connections formed continue beyond the delivery of the basket on May 12,” said Wanda Pritzel, director of charitable giving for the Perry Lutheran Homes. “The hope is that this project helps to form connections between elders and community members that lead to additional visits, conversations, food, smiles and joy. It can be as simple as stopping by to visit, sending a card, or bringing over a meal. The simplest of things can also be the most meaningful helping our elderly folks to remember they are loved and not forgotten.”

The basket packing and assembly will take place at the Perry Lutheran Homes’ Eden Acres Campus located at 1300 28th St. in Perry. Basket packing shifts start at 9 a.m., with the last packing shift starting at 3 p.m. Volunteers will need to be age 12 and over in order to pack. Basket delivery shifts start at 10 a.m., with the last delivery shift starting at 4 p.m. Volunteers will need to be age 16 and over with a valid driver’s license in order to deliver.

Volunteers will be screened upon arrival, sanitize hands, given proper PPE if needed and asked to follow social-distancing guidelines. The Perry Lutheran Homes will be closing off all other areas of Eden Acres Campus during the event in order to keep everyone safe.

Medium to large baskets with handles are needed in order to make Project Deliver the LOVE a success. Baskets can be dropped off at the Perry Lutheran Homes’ Eden Acres Campus at 1300 28th St.. Specific food and/or basket items are also needed. Contact Sara Nefzger at the Perry Lutheran Homes to see what items are still needed at 515-465-5316 or snefzger@perrylutheranhomes.org.

Community members are encouraged to get a fun group of co-workers, family or friends together and sign up online today to Deliver the LOVE and bring joy to elder citizens! Use the online sign-up form or contact Sara Nefzger at the Perry Lutheran Homes at  snefzger@perrylutheranhomes.org or 515-465-5316.

If you’re not able to volunteer but would like to share some love with a financial contribution, your gift would be used to create and furnish safe and comfortable outdoor gathering spaces for residents and families, as COVID restrictions are being lifted to allow in-person family visits. Make a gift online at the Perry Lutheran Homes website or send a check with the notation “gathering spaces” to Perry Lutheran Homes Business Office at 1300 28th St., Perry, IA 50220.

Mollie Clark is the marketing director for the Perry Lutheran Homes.

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