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Charly Haley, Published November 15 2012

Senior center, youth group band together

DILWORTH – Serenity Assisted Living and two churches here have found a way to bridge the generation gap while giving to charity.

Since October, Dilworth Lutheran Church and St. Elizabeth Catholic Church have been taking donations for items to be packaged into shoeboxes and sent overseas to children in need as part of Operation Christmas Child, a national nonprofit project.

On Wednesday, youth from the churches visited residents at Serenity Assisted Living to pack the boxes and have dinner together.

Elaine Anderson, owner of Serenity Assisted Living, said the collaboration is meaningful to the residents and the youth.

“It gets to be really, really powerful,” she said. “Both the younger and older people feel like, ‘Hey, there’s more to Christmas than what’s underneath my tree.’ ”

This is the sixth year the three organizations have partnered for Operation Christmas Child.

Anderson said while they share a meal, the youth are able to learn from the older residents’ stories.

They worked until the shoeboxes were complete, and then Thursday morning the Serenity residents brought the donations to Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in Moorhead, which is the area’s Operation Christmas Child drop-off site.

Anderson said working on the project fulfills Serenity residents’ need to give back to the community.

“Once people move into nursing homes or group homes, they’re often forgotten about,” Anderson said. “They feel that they’re not only forgotten about but that they can’t contribute to society anymore,” and this project gives them a way to contribute.

This year, the volunteers packed more than 220 shoeboxes. Last year there were around 150 boxes.

Serenity Assisted Living and Dilworth Lutheran Church have also collaborated on other projects, and that partnership has earned the two organizations multiple awards from Care Providers of Minnesota.

Nationwide, Operation Christmas Child has delivered shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and toiletries to more than 100 million children since 1993, according to a news release.

How to donate

A local donation drop-off site at Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church, 2901 20th St. S. in Moorhead, is open until Monday.

Shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and toiletries can also be sent directly to Operation Christmas Child at Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311

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