By Cheryl Dolida
Last May, the Adult Day Center at Parker celebrated Older Americans Month, which had a theme of “Blaze A Trail” via civic engagement. The participants of the Social Program at the Adult Day Center decided to “blaze a trail” by planning and running a food drive to benefit the Highland Park Community Food Pantry, which was chosen for its close proximity to Parker. The location was important, as our participants wanted to personally deliver the food we collected.
As the program’s recreation coordinator, I contacted the food pantry and arranged for a meeting with Janice Ballou, the chair of the organization, and Nicole Huff, their social worker. During our meeting, I explained the specifics of our food drive, provided some Parker brochures, and enjoyed a tour of their facility. The food pantry enthusiastically approved our drive plans.
Janice Ballou also visited Parker to give a presentation on food banks, which was very well received by the Adult Day Center social program participants. They learned a lot in a guided discussion about helping other less fortunate people with our activities. To help those who are less fortunate, we set up two boxes in Parker at the Pavilion and Parker at River Road. The boxes were beautifully decorated by our participants. We created flyers and placed them in Parker at Stonegate as well as the Pavilion and River Road. Two large posters were placed at the building entrances, enticing visitors to make food donations for the pantry.
Our initial goal was to collect 400 items for the food pantry drive. We more than doubled that goal! We collected 804 items, with 333 items donated by our social program participants. The project was a complete success and the Highland Park Community Center was very grateful for our hard work and the food we collected.