Effort Underway To Brighten Holidays For Nursing Home Residents

Effort Underway To Brighten Holidays For Nursing Home Residents
Ryan Whittington and Dolores Kenny are pictured with Whittington’s dog, Sampson, during a recent visit. Submitted Photo

BERLIN – A nursing home resident’s wish to spread holiday cheer has launched a community effort to provide fruit baskets and blankets to senior citizens.

Leading up to Dec. 22, organizers of a community-wide effort to provide for residents at the Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center during the holiday season are encouraging individuals to contribute.

Organizer Ryan Whittington, an Ocean City firefighter, said he was inspired to “adopt” senior citizens at the nursing home for the holidays after visiting friend and resident Dolores Kenny. While Kenny has visitors and can travel outside the nursing home, he said others are not so fortunate.

“Sometimes we forget the senior citizens, and people that have raised the next generation are those sitting in the nursing home that aren’t as fortunate as Dolores,” he said.

Whittington explained that he wanted to help Kenny spread holiday cheer at the nursing home and the two quickly went to work. He said Kenny, president of the facility’s resident council, spearheaded efforts to gather ideas from the residents, while he spearheaded efforts to organize and execute their wishes.

“She said she talked to everyone, and they said they didn’t want anything expensive,” he noted. “They just wanted to spend time with everyone and maybe have some fresh fruit.”

To that end, Whittington – along with the help of friends Seth Place and Amy Row and support from those at the Ocean City Fire Department – will collect monetary donations for fruit baskets, as well as new, unused throw blankets.

“I set a goal of $2,000 that would allow me to take care of 60 of the residents,” he said.

Whittington said he has worked with the nursing home’s activities director to identify the facility’s neediest residents and those with few visitors.

“We want to organize the giving spirit of Berlin Nursing Home,” he said.

Whittington said he and other volunteers will be handing out the fruit baskets and blankets to residents on Dec. 22.

“Some of the firefighters have jumped on board and said they would love to go with me,” he said. “I also rollerblade in a lot of the parades. I’m the rollerblading firefighter, so I may incorporate that when I go and give out the gifts to the residents.”

Whittington said he and his friends have established a Go Fund Me page to raise money to purchase fruit baskets. As of Wednesday, the online campaign has raised $450.

“If we get more money or donations we want to be able to do this throughout the year,” he said. “I want to make this bigger than the month of December. I want to give back to the nursing home a lot more.”

Whittington said those seeking more information can visit www.gofundme.com and search “Berlin Nursing Home Christmas Spirit for Seniors” or call 410-251-1253. Monetary donations and new, unused blankets can also be dropped off at Ocean City Fire Department headquarters on 15th Street.

“This is an opportunity to give back to seniors who were once active members of the community,” he said. “When you get the residents excited and you can make them smile, you make a difference.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.