‘We love and miss them’

Area seniors treated to Valentine’s Day goodies

Left to right, Alfred and Sarah Holcomb receive Valentine’s Day goodies from LaQuita Chambers and Lora Ray. (Courtesy of Lorri Lee)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Valentine’s Day is upon us and in a typical year, area seniors would be at their local senior centers enjoying parties and voting for kings and queens for the special day. This year, the Cullman County Commission on Aging (COA) wanted to make sure that, despite centers remaining closed due to COVID-19, the seniors they serve know they are loved and missed.

Goodie bags filled with candy were delivered Thursday to members of the county’s senior centers. In addition to delivering valentines, the COA asked the members of the senior centers to participate in a valentine card contest. COA Health Promotion Coordinator Lorri Lee said she was “tickled” by the 28 entries received. Seniors from Colony, Crane Hill, Cullman, Fairview and West Point participated in the contest.

First-, second- and third-place prizes were awarded to each center’s participants.

Said Lee, “We also awarded prizes for the most creative, most romantic and funniest cards. We also gave out participation prizes.”

The prizes were donated by the North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments (NARCOG), Cullman Regional Home Care & Hospice and the COA.

Cullman Regional Home Care & Hospice Director Tonya Foster and Home Care Liaison Rhonda Swann had the difficult task of judging the cards. Participation was equal between the senior men and women.

“It was a lot of fun and really neat to see all the creativity,” said Lee. “The most romantic card winner was a man, and he drew a gorgeous picture and wrote a really pretty poem. It was really sweet and very romantic. The funniest card was from a man, so it was a mixed lot. I would say 50/50 almost. I was pleasantly surprised.”

Prizes were distributed to the winners Friday and will continue next week by the directors of each participating center. Candy was also donated to help make more than 200 goodie bags.

“We just had an idea and wanted the folks to know that we were thinking about them and that we love and miss them,” said Lee. “Not just now during Valentine’s but year-round. Kind of like we did at Christmas, we thought we would get them some candy.”

Lee and the staff at the COA began asking around and many stepped up to help. “All our congregate countywide and all of our homebound were able to get their Valentine goodie bags. Commission on Aging, we stuffed all the little bags,” she said.

Donations were given by Cigna Medicare (Lynde Courtney), Comfort Care Home Health (Shannon Griffin),  Comfort Care Hospice, Medicare Compare (Tim Martin) and Viva Health (Alan Duke).

Said Lee, “There were a lot of smiles. They were happy (with) the simple fact that we are thinking of them and miss them. It’s a tough time for everybody right now, and (we are all) hoping they can get back to the centers. For our homebound, unfortunately, they can’t, and we really just like to let them know regardless that we are thinking about them. I think any little thing we can do helps. I am so thankful for our staff and those who donated the candy. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

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Judging the Valentine’s Day cards created by area seniors are Rhonda Swann and Tonya Foster. (Courtesy of Lorri Lee)
Top row, left to right, are Elizabeth Keller, Fred Little and Mary Stapleton; second row, left to right, are Leatrice Hardiman, Jean Fuller and Jean Wynn; third row, left to right, are Gladys Pilkinton, Alfreda Painter and Dewell Jones. (Courtesy of Lorri Lee)