First blankets for seniors a success

It started with two women brainstorming about ways to help others at Christmas time.

It ended with a collection of 200 new blankets that were distributed to area senior citizens.

“Next year we are going to double that number,” said Shunda Rivers at the end of the first ever “Blankets for the Young at Heart” campaign. “One after another we became a team.”

Shunda Rivers is the marketing director for Center Drugs Home Health and Gifts. In that capacity she visits the Enterprise Senior Citizens Center each week. That is where she teamed up with Regina Harper.

“Miss Regina is a ‘young at heart’ senior who does volunteer work every day that the good Lord wakes her up,” Rivers said. “She helped me come up with the idea and helped me through the entire blanket collection drive.”

Calling Christmas “my absolute favorite time of the year,” Rivers said she and Harper began talking about how to make Christmas “extra special” for the area seniors.

“I just kept thinking that something simple would be our best option,” Rivers said. “I personally love blankets, so I figured that a blanket collection would make things simple.”

The two women created a flyer titled “Blankets for the Young at Heart” outlining their goal and distributed it. “We are asking you to bring an unwrapped blanket, quilt or throw to Center Drugs of Enterprise now through Dec. 15,” the flyer explained. “These blankets will be hand-delivered door to door by our staff, their families and local volunteers. Thank you for helping us spread the love of Christ in our community.”

“Very quickly, the blankets started coming in,” Rivers said. One family that reached out to Rivers was the Bryant family, who are stationed at Fort Rucker. “Ashley, the mom, told me that her son Caleb wanted to help us get blankets,” Rivers added. Caleb Bryant is a student at Fort Rucker Elementary School and a member of the Junior Beta Club there.

The Fort Rucker Elementary School Junior Beta Club jumped on board Caleb Bryant’s suggestion and collected more than approximately 75 blankets. “Caleb is an amazing young man,” Rivers said. “He is going to change the world.

“The night that we went out to deliver blankets, Caleb led the pack,” Rivers said. “He was not bashful or afraid of knocking on doors.”

With his little brother, Levi Bryant, at his side, Caleb Bryant “sang Christmas songs and hugged and kissed the blanket recipients who welcomed hugs and kisses,” Rivers said.

“Caleb told me that he would be on board with me if I need him for any other community event,” Rivers said. “I am definitely looking forward to working with him again.”

Jason Windham is the respiratory specialist and a partner at Center Home Health and Center Home Care. His wife, Audrey Windham, is the assistant principal at Pinedale Elementary School and she told Rivers that PES’s Junior Beta Club was on board with the project. “Pinedale’s Junior Beta Club helped us collect over 50 blankets for this cause,” Rivers said.

“Darryl Caldwell of C&H Auto immediately committed to donating as soon I told him about ‘Blankets for the Young at Heart’ and my husband, Morris Rivers, stood right beside me donating many blankets and helping me get others to help.”

Rivers said her husband, who works in Troy, reached out to businesses there to help with the project. “It was like the snowball effect,” Rivers said. “One after another we became a team and our goal of collecting 160 blankets turned out to be over 200 blankets.

“Next year we are going to double that number and I can’t wait,” Rivers said. “It was truly an amazing experience that I will never forget.”

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