OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As many families attempt to stay inside, several Oklahoma seniors are finding it especially difficult just to make ends meet.
“People are in dire need. I’ve met several seniors in our community who are wiping themselves with newspaper. They are completely out of food and unable to get to the store. It is a really sad situation,” said Regina Anaya.
Older adults are at the greatest risk of suffering severe symptoms associated with COVID-19, so many are attempting to stay inside as much as possible.
However, that is becoming a challenge when essentials start to run low.
“We know that local seniors are struggling right now. When you have physical limitations, transportation challenges and health issues, life is already difficult. Right now, though, all of that is magnified,” said Brandy Bailey, MA, senior vice president of Home and Community Based Services at Valir Health. “Ultimately, our elders need all of us community-wide to do what we can to help.”
Anaya, an outreach coordinator at Valir Pace, has rallied her colleagues and friends to help get much-needed items for seniors. The group then gathered to begin assembling as many care packages as they could.
“It’s not been easy,” said Kevin Morefield, director of Community Development and one of those helping fill boxes. “Seniors have given us their lists of needed items. We’ve had requests from hundreds of seniors. We spread out visiting multiple stores to try to fill those needs, but often find what they want is completely sold out. These are not extravagant requests. They just want things like toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer and peanut butter. I mean these are things we would usually be able to find with no problem. Right now, it is a very different story.”
They were able to fill 50 boxes before running low on supplies.
“Honestly, we have been all over town to try to buy certain supplies without luck. We want the community to know that now is the time to show how Oklahomans take care of our own and to share what we have with others,” Anaya said.
Some of the items needed most right now include:
– Toilet Paper
– Hand sanitizer
– Surface cleaning and sanitizing products
– Canned goods, especially canned fruit
– Microwaveable, shelf stable meals
– Protein bars
– Peanut butter and Jelly
– Coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles and playing cards.
“It’s important to remember that many of the seniors living on fixed incomes do not have internet. They may not have access to television. And those activities that used to allow them to interact with others are not available to them right now. So, things like puzzles and cards are a great way for them to pass the time,” Bailey explained.
Right now, they have more than 250 seniors who would like to receive care packages on their list.
“And we know the need is even greater than that,” Morefield added. “So, if someone wants to donate to this effort, they can just call the general number. No need to come inside. We will make sure that one of us is available to meet them curbside to take their donation.”
If you would like to donate, just call (405) 609-3688. You will be directed to the parking lot at Valir Pace, located at 721 NW. 6th in Oklahoma City so you can donate items without leaving your car.