HOLMES AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES - Each of the nearly 150 "wishes" on the Bonifay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center "Angel Tree" have been granted.
Activities Director Kenya Guster states the 100 percent success rate is the result of an "invested and caring community" who rallied for the center's 140 residents.
"Almost as soon as the [Times-Advertiser] posted the story about our residents' unfulfilled wishes, support began to pour in," said Guster. "From area businesses to private residents," the community really stepped up for the residents of BNRC. I also appreciate the staff, family, and volunteers who helped with our holiday dinner on Dec. 14."
Usually residents request essential items on wish lists, such as bodywash and shaving sets, house shoes and undershirts, and snacks. Those wishes are placed on a tree in at the facility to be "picked" by those willing to fulfill the wishes by purchasing the listed items and delivering them to the centers.
Guster says one local resident made a notable difference by sending out a call to action - and then taking action herself.
Janice H. Foster of Bonifay issued a challenge via social media on Dec. 14 to all Holmes and Washington County business owners, church members, law enforcement agencies, and other emergency responders.
"People of Holmes and Washington Counties, we can make this the best Christmas these elderly people have ever had," she wrote in a comment on the Washington County News/Holmes County Times Facebook page. "They aren't asking for much. If you will take one name, I will take ten. Let's do this. This is what God wants us to do…"
Guster says Foster made good on her promise and picked up "30 or 40" angel tree wishes at the Bonifay center alone.
"I don't know where this angel came from," Guster said of Foster. "But she showed up and made a big difference."
Washington Rehabilitation and Nursing Center also reports 100 percent of their residents' Angel Tree wishes have been granted.
Brian Owens, WRNC Quality of Life Director at the center is responsible for organizing recreational and other activities for the center's 160 residents.
"It's really just touching to see how they can still get Christmas even though a lot of them don't have family at all and some of them have just stop expecting them," said Owens.
Both facilities states that staff has historically pulled together to purchase the remaining Angel Tree gifts; however, it was a special Christmas message to see local support for their residents.