A small Boise legal team for Office Depot is making the holiday season brighter this year for a group of people in a local nursing home. The lawyers and fellow employees have “adopted” the residents of Good Samaritan Society — Boise Village, vowing to fulfill the residents’ Christmas wishes before those were even published in the annual Idaho Statesman Soroptimist wish list on Thanksgiving.
The legal department undertakes a holiday giving project every year, pooling money from employees’ pockets. Sometimes they will adopt a single-parent family with children. Other years, it’s local elementary school students.
This year, legal worker Marisa Bourner brought a personal connection to the campaign.
“My mom had multiple sclerosis, and she had been put into a nursing home for about a year and a half” before passing away last year, Bourner said.
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During visits to her mother, Bourner noticed the woman who lived next to her in the nursing home never seemed to have family visitors. Some other residents didn’t, either. It occurred to her that adults in assisted-living centers are less often the focus of Christmastime giving than are children.
“Those people tend to be the ones who get forgotten,” she said.
The Soroptimist wish list this year was to include 10 people at the Good Samaritan Society — Boise Village nursing home at 3115 Sycamore Drive, near State Street and Collister Drive. Instead, the Office Depot legal team will deliver gifts to them on Dec. 9. And some team members will stick around for a dinner that night with residents.
“The people that we have identified are people that either don’t have family or family can’t contribute,” said Sherri Ellis, the nursing home’s activity and volunteer director. “We do have a lot of residents whose families are seniors, on fixed incomes, don’t have money to go out and buy that sweatsuit or whatever it is they might need.”
We find that this time of year is really hard on the seniors because they go back to when they were young and their families were little. ... That can be a little sad. So if they don’t get a gift, they notice.
Sherri Ellis, activity and volunteer director, Good Samaritan Society — Boise Village
BUSINESSES STEP UP
Businesses in the Treasure Valley are now in a flurry of holiday giving, be it corporate donations or volunteering by their employees.
Last week, two of Idaho’s largest companies — Micron Technology and Albertsons — donated more than 3,800 turkey dinners, turkeys or hams to The Idaho Foodbank.
10 percent Amount of monetary donations to the Idaho Foodbank that come from businesses
While most cash donations to the food bank come from individuals, more than half of its food comes from companies.
Morgan Wilson, vice president of development for The Idaho Foodbank, said about one-third of the food the nonprofit distributes to families in need comes straight from local grocery stores.
“We have tremendous support from many organizations,” she said.
Hewlett-Packard employees are “coming in in huge numbers for volunteering,” even during the summer when volunteers are hard to come by, she said.
I have been so surprised by the amount of dairy food and protein that we’ve been able to get to people we’re serving.
Morgan Wilson, vice president of development at The Idaho Foodbank, on donations from dairy and meat businesses
If a gallon of milk is two days from its expiration date, the average shopper might turn up his nose and reach for a newer gallon. But “it’s fantastic milk, so we’ll go in and the grocery stores will donate that product,” Wilson said.
The largest provider of food is Albertsons, the Boise-based supermarket chain, she said. The company is an “all in” donor, providing the trucks, food, volunteer time, in-kind donations and cash necessary for the food bank to get meals out to Idahoans.
Chobani, the Greek yogurt maker with a plant in Twin Falls, has contributed dairy products, which are rich in protein and other nutrients.
“When one in six people have experienced hunger during the year, it’s really important for us to get them not just food, but good, nutritious food,” Wilson said.
61 percent Amount of Idaho Foodbank food that comes directly from manufacturers, grocers and food suppliers
Wilson said corporate giving this time of year is important not only because of the on-the-ground support, but because companies’ food drives and other campaigns help spread awareness among employees who then might become volunteers or donors.
DONATIONS ARE INVALUABLE
The preseason move by Office Depot’s legal team to seek out a group of people to help is not common in the history of the Soroptimist wish list, which the Statesman has run on Thanksgiving for decades.
Marian Warren, co-chair of the Soroptimist wish list project this year, said businesses sometimes offer to donate a certain product in bulk to cover everyone on the list who needs it. For example, Eagle skin-care company Camille Beckman donates body lotion.
Families will sometimes adopt a block of names, such as everyone named Mike, in memory of a loved one.
Ellis said the Office Depot team’s commitment to adopt the nursing home will make it so that other people can benefit from the Soroptimist list.
“There’s just no way that you can measure the fact that somebody cares,” she said. “It helps them feel special, to know they’re important, they’re not forgotten.”