Give A Christmas Gift Of Precious Time To Those Who Need It Most


Girl Scouts sing Christmas carols for residents of the Powell House in Payson. For the many residents of Rim Country care centers, the holidays present special challenges.  Often, volunteers help fill the void left during the holidays for people with no family -- or who live too far from family and friends for a Christmas visit.

Girl Scouts sing Christmas carols for residents of the Powell House in Payson. For the many residents of Rim Country care centers, the holidays present special challenges. Often, volunteers help fill the void left during the holidays for people with no family -- or who live too far from family and friends for a Christmas visit. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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If Christmas means more than presents, consider giving the gift of time to those who need it most — especially elderly residents in area care centers.

“The greatest gift anyone can give our residents is time and warm attention,” said Kay Chasse, who coordinates activities for Powell House.

While most residents have a wealth of family and friends with whom to share the holidays, some have no one at all.

The staff of Payson Care Center, Ponderosa Manor — Veterans Helping Veterans, Powell House and Rim Country Health do what they can for their residents during the holidays, but always welcome help from residents, clubs and organizations, school and church groups.

The Roundup visited with Chasse and her counterparts to see what kind of help they need.

Payson Care Center

Carla Molina is the new activities coordinator for Payson Care Center, 107 E. Lone Pine Dr., Payson. She said many Native American residents here find their families too far away to spend much time with them.

“We have one woman who used to be a weaver and quite a number of residents who are artistic, so any kind of arts and crafts kits would be welcome,” she said, including yarn for weavers and fat quarters and other material for quilters, Molina said.

Slippers make a good gift. Some residents are actually homeless now, so would appreciate clothing or even a blanket to call their own, she said.

Molina said some former cowboys who now live at Payson Care would appreciate country music and western movies. She added the Native American residents might enjoy their traditional music or contemporary takes on it, such as the recordings of R. Carlos Nakai and similar artists.

Molina said residents also love visits from carolers. “We can schedule them in advance or they can just show up. We have an open-door policy and wouldn’t turn anyone away.”

Give her a call at (928) 474-6896 to get on the activities schedule. Payson Care is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday for visitors.

Molina said the facility needs a Santa for the holiday, so call her if you can help out — they already have a suit, she added.

Ponderosa Manor

“We are really a homeless shelter,” said Misti Isley DeCaire, founder and operator of Ponderosa Manor — Veterans Helping Veterans, 212 W. Wade Lane, Payson. The Manor has about 20 residents right now.

They need almost everything. She suggested white socks, which everyone can wear, new underwear, slippers for men’s sizes 7 to 13 and new or gently used clothing.

“They need to say what size the clothing is on the outside so we can give it to those it will fit,” she said.

Residents also need toiletry sets, she said.

Carolers can entertain in the dining room and if someone — a family or group — wanted to take on preparing Christmas dinner for the residents and staff that would be especially appreciated. Ponderosa Manor operates without any federal funding and so relies entirely on donations.

To learn more, call DeCaire at (928) 474-3920.

Powell House

Residents at Powell House love bingo — they play it at least three times a week and would play it every day if they had enough volunteer callers, according to Kay Chasse, activities coordinator for the facility, located at 806 W. Longhorn Rd., Payson.

So, if you have the voice for it and some free time, give Chasse a call to arrange a bingo visit this holiday season or any time.

Time for the residents is the best gift, she said. If you can, bring a bright, pretty Christmas card and sit and visit about their favorite Christmases, she suggested. Visitors can also play a board game or a round of Uno, gin rummy or something simple. “If they can’t remember all the rules, you can always guide them through it,” Chasse said.

She also suggested bringing in a small batch of homemade cookies and letting some of the residents help decorate them. Many residents also enjoy making small holiday decorations, Chasse said.

She suggested bright wrapping on any gift, the package is sometimes as important as the gift. She suggested things like a lightweight shawl or throw; candy and chocolates; small baskets of small fruit or gift boxes with small jars of jams and jellies; stretch exercise bands and light (1-pound), soft wrist band weights; soft cloth (closed) sacks of rice or buckwheat or something similar to toss in the microwave to heat up and put under the covers at the foot of their beds to keep their feet warm at night.

Almost all of the ladies at Powell House love costume jewelry, Chasse said. The men would appreciate nice aftershave, thermal undershirts and warm, plain socks. All the residents would enjoy a new set of towels and washcloths; non-greasy hand lotions such as Neutrogena or several made by Avon; or a new calendar with big boxes in which to make notes and pretty pictures, along with easy-grip pens.

“Another thing many would like would be a gift certificate or two with the Senior Center van to go see the Christmas lights,” Chasse said. She added she thinks the cost is just $3.

If someone is good with a camera, the residents love to have the pictures taken with their friends and family, she said. Call Chasse at (928) 978-5587 to arrange a visit or program for Powell House residents. If she doesn’t answer, leave a message.

Rim Country Health

“Just about all we do around here is eat and have parties,” said Marie Mennen, who coordinates activities at Rim Country Health, located at 807 W. Longhorn Rd., Payson.

A number of caroling programs have been planned, but more would be welcome.

Mennen would like to see neighbors sponsor simple arts and crafts projects for residents — bring in the supplies and give guidance or the facility could help provide the supplies.

They’d also appreciate someone bringing in homemade cookies for residents to help decorate, she said. Bring in a Christmas movie or arrange a little concert if you play a musical instrument or give a hobby demonstration. Residents also love to see animals. Following the rodeo this past August, she invited someone to bring a horse to the facility. Word got out and they wound up practically having a parade in the parking lot with horses of all sizes.

To arrange a visit with residents at Rim Country Health during the holidays, give Mennen a call at (928) 474-1120.

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