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Giving Spirit - Residents Invited To 'Adopt A Grandparent'
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Are you fortunate enough to have fond memories of your grandparents? Most can bring to mind a special cookie baking day with grandma or maybe the first hunting or fishing trip with grandpa. Those irreplaceable memories can bring a big smile to your face for sure.

Perhaps you never knew your grandparents; yet one is waiting for you with outstretched arms. Now you have the opportunity to bring a big smile to the face of a grandparent.

WestAmerica Bank in Riverbank and O'Brien's Market are joining forces again this holiday season to keep a tradition alive; Adopt a Grandparent. The Riverbank Cares Committee has joined the effort again this year as well. Visit O'Brien's Market or the WestAmerica Bank branch in Cross Roads Shopping Center and you will find "ornaments" on the Christmas tree giving you information for a senior resident of the Riverbank Care Facility; their needs or wants are also included. Once you select the senior you want to adopt this holiday season, record your choice with the staff of the market or the bank, this will allow for tracking so no one is left out. As you go about your holiday shopping, purchase the gifts and return them to the market or the bank, unwrapped, no later than Friday, Dec. 7. It is important that the "ornament" be returned also since Santa has an official check off list. The gifts will be sorted, wrapped and readied for delivery when the seniors will enjoy a holiday party.

The need is always greater than the previous year; as more of our population is living longer and not equipped to care for themselves. The commitment from the community will be vital in caring for each person, making sure Santa leaves no one off his list. Each of the partners plays a large part in the project and the community is more than ever to help fill the growing need.

"I've have always had a soft spot for our elderly. Working together with our community partners is fulfilling a desire I've long had of letting our seniors know they are not forgotten," said Riverbank WestAmerica Bank manager Carla Strong. "Our elderly often spend long lonely days in nursing facilities where one day runs into another."

Strong said she learned about the effectiveness of this type of program firsthand.

"My mother lived in North Carolina and on many occasions spent the Christmas season in a care facility. Every day when I called she would tell me how much it meant to have visitors. I would always hear a smile in her voice when she told me about the small gifts that appeared on her bedside table when she awoke, or returned from therapy," Strong explained. "Someone had thought about her. It didn't matter that it was a total stranger; it meant the world to her. I lost my mother three years ago so it is particularly important to me to continue this program."

Requests from the care home residents are simple, everyday items: lotion, a lap blanket, radio, coloring books, slippers or a bottle of perfume. Every effort is made to be sure that no one is forgotten and with the help of volunteers at the care facility the gifts are given out during their holiday gathering. For those who do not have time to do the shopping, cash donations are accepted and the organizers will do the shopping for you. For additional information, contact WestAmerica Bank at 869-2469 or stop by O'Brien's Market in Riverbank.