by: Andrea Loll, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Dodge City Community College
Dodge City, KS(westernkansasnews.com) Four years ago, two Dodge City women who wanted to make a difference and give back to their community, came up with the idea of starting the “Silver Tree” program, which is akin to the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but is for senior citizens who have no family or are otherwise alone during the holidays.
The idea was inspired by a Thanksgiving feast, organized by Andrea Hogue, to serve veterans as well as others in the community who had no family or couldn’t travel. From there, Cathy Cox came up with the idea of starting the Silver Tree program. She and Andrea collaborated and worked tirelessly for the first year, getting everything donated and delivered. Each year, the program has continued to grow. They enlisted the help of RSVP Director Debbie Allen, of the Ford County Volunteer Center, who Cathy refers to as “an absolute blessing.” Debbie secured space in the mall, for gifts, this year as well as enlisting the help of local youth, from the Alley, to wrap presents.
“Andrea’s original vision has grown,” said Cathy Cox. “Even though we don’t do Thanksgiving dinner any longer, we have continued the Silver Tree tradition each year. Ultimately, I would love to have this spread across the country.”
The Silver Tree program welcomes the names of any senior citizens in the area who are alone for the holidays or have no family nearby. “We try to focus on those who are still living independently whether it be an apartment or their own homes as well as the cottages at Fort Dodge,” Cox said. “Usually schools, etc. focus on nursing homes at Christmas and we try not to interfere with that.” If you would like to recommend a senior to benefit from the Silver Tree program or for more information, please call Andrea Hogue at 620-253-2806, Cathy Cox at 316-250-0035, or Debbie Allen at 620-255-1158.
The Silver Tree program is also currently accepting donations for the holiday season. Suggestions for donations include: hats or gloves, flashlights, scarves, pajamas, slippers, blankets, puzzles, sugar-free candy, word searches, crossword puzzle books, and handcrafted items. In addition to material goods, a donation of time, such as spending time working on a puzzle with a senior or taking a senior out for ice cream, would be very much appreciated. Donations will be accepted from now until December 20th at the RSVP office in the lower level of the Village Square Mall or the Admissions office #3 at Western Plains Regional Hospital. If you have any items that need to be picked up for donation, please contact Andrea Hogue at the above telephone number by December 20th.
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