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Boxes of Love set for fourth year
Program makes Valentine’s Day brighter for seniors
boxes of love pic
United Way of Central Kansas Executive Director Gaila Demel, center, announces the 2020 Boxes of Love program during the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee Thursday morning at the chamber office. Items for the annual event to benefit home-bound seniors are now being accepted. They will be delivered on Valentines Day.

Boxes of Love will once again be delivered to home-bound seniors in Barton and Pawnee counties. This is the fourth year for this project, which is a collaboration of United Way of Central Kansas, ElderCare Home Services, Meals on Wheels, and RSVP/Volunteers in Action of Central Kansas. 

“Partnering together, these non-profits work to brighten the day and warm the hearts of hundreds of seniors throughout Central Kansas,” said UWCK Executive Director Gaila Demel. Organizers estimate they will deliver around 250 boxes, mostly to those served by the partner organizations.

Demel said they will have collection boxes out in the communities next week. The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors welcomed the entities to collect items and “kickoff” the project at the chamber coffee Thursday morning at the chamber office, and they will also host a chamber coffee in Ellinwood on Feb. 7 at the Ellinwood Heritage Senior Center. 

A welcomed gift

Each box is filled with items for seniors, some of them just for fun as well as some practical items. Items range from stationary and cough drops to shampoo and conditioner to chocolates.

Due to the size of the box and transportation of the packages, they request that donated items be travel sized. Each box also gets topped off with homemade Valentine’s Day cards made 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. 

The project is already off and running with donations from Midwest Energy, Thrivent Financial and Dr. Chad Ohnmacht. “Thanks to these generous donations, we can ensure that each box will have chocolates, stamps, toothbrushes and a special gift,” Demel said.

Making it happen

Donations are being accepted from Jan. 9 through Feb. 6. Next, volunteers gather to pack the care packages.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, RSVP volunteers, ElderCare caregivers and staff, and UWCK volunteers will deliver the boxes. “It’s the most fun day delivering the Red Boxes of Love to the residents of our communities,” Demel said.

“They like it especially if you stay and watch them open them to see what is inside,” she said. “It is always a great day when someone delivers chocolate to your home.” 

How to help

Those who wish to make a donation to the project can drop them off at: Clara Barton Hospital, University of Kansas Health System-Pawnee Valley Campus, First Kansas Bank (Hoisington and Great Bend), Sunflower Bank (Ellinwood and Great Bend), Farmers Bank and Trust (Great Bend and Larned), and the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. 

“If you don’t have a chance to run to the store to make a donation, cash donations are accepted and will be used to purchase items for each box,” Demel said. Make checks payable to United Way of Central Kansas, 1125 Williams, Great Bend, KS 67530.

For more information or to make a direct donation, contact the UWCK office at 620-792-2403 or by email at