CHESHIRE — After Jessica Repko’s grandmother passed away in March, she realized she had an extra Christmas gift saved with no one to give it to. In her grief, she decided that she wanted to spread the holiday cheer by donating the gift to someone who might need it during the season. Repko then posted on the Cheshire Facebook Forum to see if anyone could use the extra gift.
When Repko began soliciting suggestions from friends and family as to what she could do, many brought up Elim Park, an independent living facility for seniors that includes a health care center.
“(Upon reaching out) they told me that they could absolutely use it, and that a lot of residents are struggling this time of year because they don’t have family or friends to exchange gifts with due to COVID,” Repko said. “They said that a lot of the staff has taken it upon themselves to adopt different residents who don’t have anyone, and go shopping for them.”
“While I thought that was a great (idea), I didn’t think the burden should lie on the staff to get them gifts, so that’s how we started,” she continued.
Repko and her 6-year-old daughter Sydney began collecting items from local stores to donate.
“We ran all over Walmart, Target, CVS, everywhere, to get different items like sweaters, pajamas, adult coloring books, to donate,” Repko said.
Rekpo also received donations from friends and family members, who donated money and items.
While gathering the donations, Repko thought it would be a great opportunity to teach her daughter about the importance of giving.
“I really wanted to teach her that Christmas is not just about getting presents. It’s also about giving to those who are in need,” she added. “She really got the (point), and had such a fun time picking out items for the residents.”
On Dec. 23, Repko and her daughter delivered approximately 100 wrapped gifts to the Elim Park Health Care Center to be distributed among the residents at the facility.
“Jessica’s offer was so appreciated by all of our residents and they each had a wonderful present to open on Christmas morning,” said Sarah Mach, Elim Park’s director of admissions. “It brought them a lot of joy, especially during this difficult time. Who knew that a gift posted on Facebook would create such a sense of community. We can’t thank Jessica, her friends and family enough for their kindness.”