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 Place.
“(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 explained. “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 Syndey began collecting items from local stores to donate to Elim Park residents who might not have received a gift otherwise this year.
“We ran all over Walmart, Target, CVS, everywhere, to get different items like sweaters, pajamas, adult coloring books, to donate,” Repko said. “We also were able to adopt a resident there, so we bought a lot of gifts for him, too.”
Rekpo also received donations from friends and family members, who donated money and items for the residents. Most of the time, Repko was able to either get the donations dropped off at her home or pick them up herself.
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 Elim Park to be distributed among the residents at the facility.
“They were so grateful and thankful for what we were able to do,” Repko said. “It felt so good to do, and seeing everyone in the Christmas spirit was so nice.”
Next year, Repko has plans to expand the drive to the town and her friends, and hopefully she can garner even more donations to deliver in 2021.