Area Agency on Aging 11 assembles bags of cheer for seniors

NILES — Area Agency on Aging 11 Inc. again plans to deliver Holiday Bags for Seniors for older residents who live alone and have no support system.

“The gift bags are filled with such things as lap blankets, batteries, flashlights and gloves,” said Lisa Solley, director of communications for the agency.

The agency delivered about 50 bags last year.

“The most rewarding part of this whole process is delivering the bags,” Solley said. “The people are so surprised and overwhelmed. Some of them cry. Almost all of them will ask you to just come in and sit for a minute.”

Joseph Rossi, chief executive officer for the local office, said, “I encourage the staff who work most of the year in the office to deliver the bags personally because it is so special. It is the best Christmas gift we can give ourselves is to know we made a difference for at least one person and they know they were not forgotten on Christmas.”

Created by the Older Americans Act of 1965, Area Agencies on Aging are charged with responding to the needs of the older populations in the communities they serve. They are advocates, planners, funders and educators. They also are providers of information and referral services, working with both public and private partners.

For 25 years, the staff of Area Agency on Aging 11 in Trumbull County has put together gift cards or baskets that are auctioned off during the agency’s annual holiday party. This year’s party is immediately following its board of trustees meeting Dec. 16.

“It has become a fun competition to see who can provide the best basket or who has the best theme,” Solley said.

This year the agency sent letters to area businesses and restaurants seeking gift cards or items for the Chinese auction.

“Having an auction of gift cards or baskets is a fun way for our staff to win something while helping someone,” Solley said. “The cards or baskets range from $100 in lottery tickets to a New Year’s celebration of alcohol and noise makers, to an Italian dinner with wine and glasses.”

The money from the auction is used to buy gifts that are assembled into bags and delivered to area seniors within Trumbull, Ashtabula, Columbiana and Mahoning counties.

“The gift bags also have lotions and personal products, socks, back scratchers, playing cards, hot cocoa and mugs,” she said. “There is always a puzzle book.”

To donate

Anyone who would like to donate to Holiday Bags for Seniors may call Area on Aging 11 Inc., 330-505-2300. One can also mail a tax-deductible check to the agency and write “holiday bags” in the memo.