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Sterling Heights residents Reese McConnell, left, ties the bow while her brother, Austyn McConnell, holds the basket. photo by Renee Landuyt.

January 03, 2013
This is the season for open-hearted giving and gracious and grateful receiving. Both are fulfilled through schools, churches, community organizations and at Services for Older Citizens.

For Marylynn and Kacie Wurthrich of Grosse Pointe Woods and Farms resident Patrick Willard it's about volunteering and cheering people up who are unable to get out and enjoy the season.

The Wurthrichs and Willard are three of 15 SOC volunteers who selected practical items to fill 96 baskets delivered to Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods seniors.

"I thought the whole thing was nice. There was a little bit of everything," said a Harper Woods resident, who along with her daughter, received two baskets. "It was a good variety in a real pretty basket."

Donations of canned food, cleaning products, hard candy, cough drops, books, pens, pencils, note pads and personal hygiene products were piled on tables. Volunteers of all ages filled baskets to overflowing. Tucked inside was a handmade card. Both local high school and elementary children spent an hour and a half in mid-December creating holiday greeting cards for the seniors, SOC's food and friendship coordinator JoAnn Gerlach said.

Baskets were wrapped in cellophane and tied with colorful ribbon.

When all the baskets were filled and wrapped, they lined the long hall of SOC awaiting delivery Dec. 20 through 22.

"Everything was donated by SOC lovers," Gerlach said, of items to fill the baskets. "Things have been coming in by the car load. It was wonderful."

The recipients think its wonderful, too, because many are home bound and without visitors during the holidays, Gerlach said.

"They are excited. It brightens up their holidays."

"It was well received," said an elderly female basket recipient who lives in Grosse Pointe Woods. "I liked it. I was like a little kid looking at every little thing. It was loaded with nice things, such nice things."

Among the items in her basket were crackers and cheese. "I just love that," she said.

Double A batteries were another basket item which she said was most helpful.

Volunteer Pauline Grace of Harper Woods said the seniors who receive the baskets are grateful.

"These are all usable items from soap to soup," she said.

Volunteer Lydia Palma of Grosse Pointe Shores said her reward is seeing the seniors' smiles.

"To see the smiles on the seniors and how happy they are," Palma said makes her happy, too. "Everything you do, they are appreciative."

This is the first year filling baskets for Willard, a student at Brownell Middle School. He observed he is able to get around and enjoy this time of year but there are others not as fortunate and filling baskets brings a little cheer to those who are less mobile.

"I really appreciate what they do," said the Harper Woods senior.

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