“Angels in Disguise”
Christmas can be a lonely time of year for the elderly.
Living on meager incomes and with no family around, the bright and happy holiday is often just a struggle to get through.
Unless you live in Stillwater County.
For the past decade, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts with hearts for senior citizens have held to a simple mission of helping the aged population through acts of kindness, with Christmas being its main focus.
That group — Kruizin’ 4 Seniors — has delivered more than 1,500 Christmas gifts to the senior population in Absarokee, Dean, Fishtail, Nye and Columbus since December of 2008.
“To us, Kruizin’ 4 Seniors are angels in disguise,” said Rose Sandlin. who manages the Meadowlark Assisted Living facility in Columbus. “Many of our residents do not have family around and this may be the only Christmas they get, and it means a lot to them.”
And the gifts aren’t just generic items.
“(They) make sure that every resident gets what is on their wish list, no matter what it is,” said Sandlin.
The non-profit organization has also purchased a Wii, a computer system, an iPad and a big screen TV for area senior living facilities, as well as carpeted the Absarokee Senior Center, planned and helped with birthday celebrations and “bucket list” items. Last year, Meadowlark residents were given an old fashioned popcorn maker to use during movie time.
Michele Orlich, a founding member of the group, said they are driven by true love and appreciation.
“The stories, the history — a person can learn so much from the elderly,” said Orlich. “We love our elderly!”
HOW IT WORKS
Each fall, the managers of the Columbus Apartments, the Sage Apartments, Meadowlark Assisted Living and Shipp’s Assisted Living and the Homestead Lodge receive letters from Santa, letting them know it’s time to fill out each resident’s wish list. The elves at Kruizin’ 4 Seniors then go shopping.
Also given out each year are bags of goodies filled with basic necessities including shampoo, lotion and shaving gel. And of course holiday necessities that last year included the likes of jams, hot cereal, candy and a lap blanket. Hot items are gift certificates for beauty appointments and newspaper subscriptions.
HOW IT’S GROWN
In addition to visiting assisted living facilities, Kruizin’ 4 Seniors made 411 home visits in 2016. That number was up from 362 the previous year and up from 336 the year prior to that. Home visits are conducted in Absarokee, Columbus, Fishtail, Nye and Dean.
HOW THEY DO IT
Kruizin’ 4 Seniors holds two main fundraisers — “Thursday Thunder Rods & Hogs Car & Bike Show” held every July and August, as well as Santa’s Bingo Run and auction each November. Money is also donated by individuals, businesses and corporations. The group has a board of directors and several volunteers.
“Part of our mission statement states: promote community awareness in hope that others will take our lead and be empowered to remember the elderly in their day to day lives,” said Orlich.
In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, the group is selling cookbooks “with recipes from our friends” for $20. For more information on the group, go to its Facebook page or website at http://www.kruizin4seniors.org