With the help of students and staff from Covenant Christian Academy in Loganville, Sharna Fulton of Alternative Home Care For Seniors was able to deliver two carloads of sweaters to Gwinnett County Senior Services through the Sweater for Seniors program on Tuesday. The Sweaters for Seniors program has been sponsored and coordinated for the past four years by Derrick and Shawn Merchant, owners of Alternative Home Care for Seniors in Snellville.
“Gary Galloway, the Resource and Marketing Coordinator for Gwinnett County Senior Services – our first contact ever with Sweaters For Seniors back in 2008 -said that every year, every sweater goes,” Fulton said, adding the sweaters are distributed amongst the three senior centers in Gwinnett County - Norcross, Lawrenceville and Buford. “The Senior Center directors distribute them on an as-needed basis. It was in our first year when we collected more sweaters than we had planned that we met Gary and he educated us about the need for this sort of program in the county…and actually encouraged us to press on and continue the program.”
According to Galloway, a sweater can make a huge difference for a senior not able to pay a heating bill in the dead of winter. March is the greatest mortality rate and some folks are often forced to choose between food, heat and prescription. Many seniors are still paying Medicare deductibles after the first of the year.
Fulton said CCA teacher Pam Krumpach and the CCA students were a tremendous asset to the Sweaters for Seniors program this year.
“It is estimated they collected between 350 – 550 sweaters,” Fulton said. “I believe this is a record for our school partner collections. We’ve also collected hundreds in the past from schools such as The Galloway School, Magill and Norton Elementary, but Pam and Covenant really got behind the program and it shows.”
Fulton said sweaters were also collected through the Alternative Home Care for Seniors offices in Snellville as well as the following health care partners:
- Gwinnett Medical Center (Care Coordination Department)
- Georgia Cancer Specialists of Rockdale County
- SarahCare of Snellville
- Northlake Assisted Living (in Tucker)
- Maya Kelkar, who with her Girl Scout Troop, hand crocheted 13 lap blankets that were raffled off at a recent S4S event at Lawrenceville Senior Center.
Fulton said that, according to Shawn Valdez, (Volunteer Specialist for Gwinnett County Senior Services) the needs of homebound seniors are greater this year, but that need has been matched by a greater response from the community. Care coordinators who serve GCSS homebound clients also receive sweaters through the program if needed.
GCSS recently had a Thanksgiving event for seniors through their partnership with Outback Steakhouse and are gearing up to provide gift boxes to seniors through Gwinnett County. Fulton said GCSS is looking for additional resources for seniors, such as a community garden and a partner to provide food boxes. If anyone can help they are asked to contact Galloway at 678-377-3020.