The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce is collecting donations for 16 homebound seniors through Dec. 2. The presents will be wrapped, grouped in holiday baskets and dropped off by the La Mesa Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol for selected seniors.
Chamber president Mary England said many of the donations she’s seen come in over the past seven years of hosting the annual project are brought in by other seniors and represent a larger community.
“The donations come from all over, not just La Mesa. We track all the donations to send a ‘thank you’ letter and I’ve seen there are people who drive from Kensington, who send things from all over the area. I’ve had a lot of people meet me and donate cash to buy whatever is missing from the donations,” England said.
Last year, she said, the final tally was 3,306 items donated in addition to cash donations and gift cards.
“Nonprofits sometimes get together to do a group donation, or community groups that get together and go buy little things from Dollar Tree or do a canned goods drive. Sometimes there are side projects involved like I have somebody working on handmade Christmas stockings right now,” England said.
Although the Chamber will take any and all donations, England said to keep in mind the smaller senior appetite when deciding what to donate.
“Remember, one large can of soup is several meals for someone older who isn’t very active. People sometimes go to Costco and get a huge can of something to donate and we appreciate it but I can’t give a senior something like a huge can of beans so it gets donated to a local church instead,” England said.
Ideally, she’d like to receive donations of smaller servings of food “like the assorted little cereal boxes or the miniature mac-and-cheese cups” because the portions are perfect for one person living on their own.
“Then, whatever I don’t see with donations, I shop for and fill in with donated cash. However, I’m amazed at how much is given,” England said.
Gift cards to major stores are always welcome, she said, as are canned soups, fruits and vegetables, packets of crackers and pasta, personal items like soap and toothpaste or paper products like tissues or pens and pads of paper.
“If you have other items you believe will put a smile on their faces, by all means drop them off. We want to make this a memorable holiday for our homebound seniors again this year,” England said, although she cautioned to please check expiration dates on food if it was stored at home before donation.
As an aside, she said the Chamber also adopts two families from Lincoln military housing and would appreciate toy donations.
“We believe being a good community leader means also having community ties. This is an opportunity to engage our members to give back to the community,” England said.
Donations should be delivered to the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce office at 8080 La Mesa Boulevard, suite 214 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during weekdays.
Anyone who wishes to donate and cannot make a delivery during those hours can contact England at (619) 251-7730 to arrange a pickup time.