The generosity and giving capacity of the Great Bend community was never more apparent than with the culmination this week of the Boxes of Love project spearheaded by United Way, Meals On Wheels, ElderCare Inc., RSVP of Central Kansas and Golden Belt Home, Health & Hospice.
In mid-January collection boxes were placed all over the community in businesses, churches, community centers and elsewhere as drop-off points to gather items that would be delivered in a Valentine’s Box, on Valentine’s Day to seniors who are homebound. These included items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, candy, socks, lotions, stationary, photo books, magnifying glasses and pill boxes.
“When we picked up the boxes from around the area and started going through them, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of the donations,” said Julie Smith, United Way of Central Kansas executive director. “We thought this would be a small beginning project. We had no idea it would become this big.”
There were enough items to put at least 30 or more things in each box, plus beautiful art projects and cards from the Girl Scouts, Great Bend Children’s Learning Center, Holy Family School and other individuals.
RSVP of Central Kansas recruited athletes from Barton Community College, which sponsors RSVP, to help with the box prep and packing. The women’s softball team, men’s wrestling and men’s soccer teams were on hand at the RSVP offices last Wednesday to fill all 150 plus boxes for delivery.
“It is great to see the enthusiasm the athletes had in helping with this project,” said Linn Hogg, RSVP director. “Many of them are far from their own home but willing to help out those around them.”
Volunteers from RSVP and ElderCare will be delivering these boxes today, on Valentine’s Day.
Smith said the success of this project definitely warrants repeating next year and possibly expanding it into other communities. “We had United Way agencies working together with the college athletes, community groups, churches and businesses,” said Smith. “What a great way to show our love for our neighbors.”