Over 350 Local Elderly in and around Perry Surprised with Visits and Baskets Full of LOVE

On Wednesday, May 12, volunteers transformed ordinary items into baskets full of love at the first annual “Project Deliver the LOVE” event. This project is one of Perry Lutheran Homes responses to the silent epidemic of elderly loneliness with the goal to help community members find and form lasting connections with “invisible elders.”

Volunteers gathered at Perry Lutheran Homes Eden Acres Campus to pack fresh fruit, canned goods, sweet treats, personalized hand-written notes, prayer crosses made by Perry Lutheran Homes residents, painted hearts from Acorns & Oaks Christian Daycare children, and more into brightly colored baskets full of love.

“Doing for others in the name of Jesus always fills me with joy. As always, I felt so blessed to be a part of something that made a difference in someone's life. I've really missed being able to volunteer during the pandemic. The event was so well organized that participants could just relax and enjoy the experience. It was fun to work together with a small group, see familiar faces, and meet some great new people as well,” shared one basket assembly volunteer.

Once baskets were ready, volunteers hit the streets of Perry, Woodward, Minburn, and other addresses within a 10-mile radius of Perry. Over 350 local, elderly men and women received a personal visit and a basket filled with food, encouragement and LOVE. This number includes residents living in Perry’s four senior care communities.

“I saw how ’Project Deliver the Love’ brought far more than just a basket of food and other items to elderly folks here in Perry. Many appreciated the fact that someone had thought of them and taken the time to physically show up and express care and love in a very tangible way. We had some great conversations and spent time listening to their stories. Many expressed how much they appreciated this kindness and how alone they have felt over the past months due to COVID-19. I was reminded of how valuable our older citizens are and how much they have contributed to our community,” said Basket delivery volunteer, Gus Henrici, Chaplain at Tyson Foods.

Approximately 150 volunteers worked throughout the day to assemble baskets, deliver baskets or both. In addition to the volunteers on May 12, hundreds more donated food items and baskets. Others made financial gifts to help purchase supplies, food, and other necessary items which helped make the event a success.

“We had a tremendous response from congregations, businesses, civic organizations, schools and more that wanted to be part of ‘Project Deliver the LOVE’ through the collecting and donating of canned goods, packaged goods, fresh fruit and monetary donations to purchase needed supplies,” states Melissa Gannon, COO and Administrator at Perry Lutheran Homes. Gannon continues, “It is such a blessing to be part of a community that wants to get involved and be part of honoring, celebrating, and serving our elderly citizens.”

“Project Deliver the LOVE” is part of Perry Lutheran Homes StepUp Movement initiative. S-T-E-P stands for Serving Together our Elders with Passion and encourages our community members to take notice of and StepUp to serve elders who may sometimes feel lonely, afraid, hungry or forgotten. And, just like the StepUp Movement, “Project Deliver the LOVE” is something that can be replicated in any community.

“The goal for ‘Project Deliver the LOVE’ is that the connections formed continue beyond the delivery of the basket on May 12. 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 be the most meaningful helping our elderly neighbors remember they are loved and not forgotten,” expresses Wanda Pritzel, Director of Charitable Giving for Perry Lutheran Homes.

All volunteers were screened and provided with the proper PPE for safety during the event and delivery of baskets. The event was held in an area of Perry Lutheran Homes Eden Acres Campus that was separated from the rest of the care community for the safety of all.

Delivery volunteers are asked to stop by and pick up baskets from recipients living in their homes for use next year; however, more baskets with handles will be needed to deliver the love to even more elders in 2022. Donated baskets that are 12 inches in diameter or larger that have handles can be dropped off at Perry Lutheran Homes Eden Acres Campus at 1300 28th Street, Perry inside the east, main entry doors.

If you weren’t able to volunteer, but would like to share some love with a financial contribution, your gift will be used to create and furnish safe and comfortable outdoor gathering spaces for residents and families at both King’s Gardens and Eden Acres Campuses. COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift allowing in-person family and friend visits at senior care communities. Make your gift online at https://perrylutheranhome.networkforgood.com/projects/126396-safe-spaces-for-reconnecting-families, or text the word “GIVE” to the number 515-320-8256. You may also mail a check with the notation “gathering spaces” to Perry Lutheran Homes Business Office at 1300 28th Street, Perry, IA 50220.

Perry Lutheran Homes is your locally owned and managed, Christian Caring Community serving Perry and surrounding communities for 65 years. Perry Lutheran Homes offers innovative, personalized, Christ-centered living and care at three campuses in Perry, IA – Spring Valley Campus, King’s Garden’s Campus and Eden Acres Campus. Services include independent and assisted living, award-winning memory care, in-home care, respite care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapy, intermediate and long-term care, end-of-life care and meals on wheels.

What did our volunteers have to say about being part of this event?

“Doing for others in the name of Jesus always fills me with joy. As always, I felt so blessed to be a part of something that made a difference in someone's life."

“I saw how ’Project Deliver the Love’ brought far more than just a basket of food and other items to elderly folks here in Perry."

"It felt good having conversations with them, and wonderful to see the smiles on their faces when we handed them their basket."

"Thank you for your hours of planning and organizing this event! It was so well done. The whole mood was one of love and excitement! Just wonderful!"

"My heart was full. I was sad when it was over. I enjoyed delivering the baskets."

"The people I delivered baskets to were so surprised to receive one. I told them that someone thought of them and signed them up for a basket. I told them they were loved. Each one of them had a huge smile on their face and were so excited."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this event. I enjoyed the comradery amongst the volunteers even though I didn't know anyone. I felt like I was a part of something that would make a positive impact in someone else's life. It was a high energy very organized event."

“This was the best planned event that I have ever participated in, I would like to thank the workers behind the scene.”

“I think it was a "HIT". People loved them and their eyes lit up! It felt great! Glad I could be a part of it!”