United Way of Central Kansas will be reaching out to area home-bound seniors this Valentine’s Day by delivering 300 Boxes of Love to their doors. Boxes reach seniors in Barton and Pawnee counties in an effort to brighten their day and warm their hearts.
“Each box is filled with items for these seniors, some of them just for fun as well as some practical items,” said Charell Owings, UWCK executive director. The box will include toiletry items, as well as a jar opener and key chain flashlight.
However, the handmade Valentine’s Day cards are the highlight of the box. They are created by children at UWCK community partners Great Bend Children’s Learning Center and Caring Hands Daycare, as well as other children throughout Barton and Pawnee counties.
They will be delivered on Valentine’s Day by Meals on Wheels and ElderCare Home Services, along with local volunteers at homes and care facilities.
“This is the fifth year for the project, and is a collaboration of United Way of Central Kansas, ElderCare Home Services, Meals on Wheels, and Volunteers in Action/AmeriCorp Seniors,” Owings said. “All of these agencies serve the seniors of our areas and are acutely aware of the loneliness this segment of our population feel.”
“That is what makes this project one of our favorites to collaborate on,” said Linn Hogg, director of Volunteers In Action/AmeriCorps Seniors and Meals Of Wheels of Barton County. “The volunteers that participate love putting the boxes together as well as the excited looks from seniors they are delivered to.”
The presenting sponsor for this project is Cuna Mutual Group. Additional sponsors for the project includes Midwest Energy, Thrivent Financial Services, and Office Products Inc.
Volunteers In Action/AmeriCorps Seniors is sponsored by Barton Community College, so Hogg has reached out each year to the athletic teams to help assemble the boxes.
“Recruiting these student volunteer athletes has become a competition to see which team can take bragging rights for being a part of this project,” she said.
“Seeing this project grow over the past five years has been inspiring,” Owings said. “We started off with 150 boxes our first year and have now doubled our reach. We have great partners who see the impact that this project has.”
It does more than provide seniors with a box of goodies for Valentine’s Day, she said. “It also reminds us all to reach out to those around us who may not have anyone close in their lives and who just want to continue being a part of their community.”