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Bringing Sparkle to People in Need of Joy

Volunteers from Silver Stars know how to give great gifts

A Silver Stars volunteer delivers holiday gifts to a woman in a nursing home

Photo courtesy Silver Stars

The SIlver Stars program has been spreading holiday joy since 1998.

The holiday season is not the most wonderful time of year for everybody. For aging adults who live in isolation, or who are coping with the increasing loss of friends and family members, the end of the year can be a very unjolly, deeply depressing time.

That’s why the Silver Stars program puts sparkle into the season for hundreds of older adults in Tarrant County, Texas, and the city of Fort Worth. “We just want them to know they’re not forgotten,” says Felicia Johnson of Silver Stars, which is part of Fort Worth’s Community Action Partners program.

About 200,000 of the county’s residents are 65 or over, and 8 percent of them live in poverty.

Their needs are significant, but are sometimes overlooked in the scramble to serve the growing population of children in poverty. “We do so much for our kids — and they definitely need it — but we sometimes forget about our ‘older kids,’” says Johnson.

In 2017, at eight community centers and a handful of senior living communities, Silver Stars elves hosted holiday parties and delivered care packages to about 600 low-income or isolated seniors. Volunteers from Meals on Wheels aided the effort throughout the county, which covers roughly 850 square miles.

Every Silver Stars “present” contains items that were donated or purchased through donated funds. Typical gifts include toiletries, jigsaw puzzles, jumbo crossword books, magnifying glasses, manicure sets, gloves, scarves, hats, and blankets.

“Blankets are the favorite,” says Johnson. “They really love a warm, colorful blanket.”

This article is an excerpt from the "Inspire Community Engagement" chapter of the AARP book Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples From America’s Community Leaders. Download or order your free copy.

Learn more about what AARP is up to in Texas by connecting with AARP Texas.

Article by Mary Ellen Flannery | Book published June 2018 

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