Joining Partners In Care was a revelation for Sue Origlio in 2014.
“I thought, ‘This place is too good to be true,’” Origlio said. “It’s just people helping each other.’”
Her mom was one of those people, addressing 180 to 300 birthday cards each month to members of Partners In Care, which helps older adults live independently in their homes and stay active in their community.
Soon, Origlio had a project of her own: Elves for Elders, a stocking-stuffing endeavor that serves seniors each December.
Elves for Elders would not only make the holidays merrier for seniors, she thought, but it was an ideal way to honor her father, who died in 2015.
“This is something so simple, but you see how much it means to somebody,” Origlio said. “You can get caught up in your own families and lives, but there are people out there who are all alone with no signs of Christmas.
“Even if only for that day when they call Partners In Care, a lot of people are in tears and they say, ‘You made my day. I didn’t think anyone would remember me.’”
The fundraiser will return this year on December 2 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. For the first time, Elves for Elders will be held at Brian Boru Irish Restaurant and Pub in Severna Park instead of being held in Gambrills.
Origlio dined at the restaurant last Thanksgiving and noticed that general manager Kendall Yingling shared her enthusiasm for helping the elderly population.
“They were just so warm, all the waiters and waitresses,” Origlio said. “I thought, ‘This is where we belong.’”
Yingling said although Brian Boru Irish Restaurant and Pub hosts an average of three fundraisers per week, Elves for Elders is special.
“A lot of the drives that are done are focused on children and families with children,” Yingling said. “This is focused on our community elders who might not have family, or their family might not see them anymore and they might be on the backburner. The way (Sue) explained it, it really sparked a light in my heart.”
The event is bittersweet for Origlio. Her mom passed away in May 2020, nearly five years after the death of Origlio’s father. Her parents were childhood sweethearts.
Partners In Care asked Origlio if she wanted to take a year off.
“My mother would be telling me, ‘Don’t you let these people down. They are even more isolated now,’” Origlio said.
Origlio called the response “unbelievable.”
Elves for Elders has grown each year. Origlio and her helpers stuffed 80 stockings in 2015. Volunteers stuffed more than 400 stockings in 2022.
Many people have told Partners In Care that they felt the stockings were made for them personally.
“I think the Christmas stockings bring them back to their childhood,” Origlio said. “They all are surprised, like whoever did the stocking knew them. And they don’t. It’s the luck of the draw. But (the recipients) get personalized notes.”
Origlio called Elves for Elders “my Christmas.” Words hardly explain the joy she feels when seeing people gather to support seniors at a time when their energy and mobility levels may be decreased, they may feel the loss of their independence, or they may even feel excluded.
“Most of the people who help went to elementary, high school or college with me, and other people get involved and get their family involved, so it’s a cool thing the way this has blossomed,” Origlio said. “With all the things going on in the world, this is something good but meaningful.”
Make A Stocking Or Gift Bag
Anyone can participate. To start, collect stockings (approximately 16 inches) or sturdy Christmas gift bags (at least nine inches) and fill each with new items that would be gifted to a friend or family member: night lights, shaving supplies, lotion, hygiene products, scarves and gloves, socks, puzzles, magazines, books, candy that is not expired, nonperishable and store-bought food, scratch-off lottery tickets, sewing kits, stationary and gift cards. Do not include unwrapped items that are strongly scented, alcohol, home-baked items, CDs or DVDs, or anything that promotes sales or businesses.
Stockings can include a handwritten note or Christmas card with well-wishes. Stockings and gift bags must be marked “male,” “female” or “general.”
Other Ways To Help
To become a Partners In Care volunteer, contact April Stup at 410-544-4800 or visit www.partnersincare.org/volunteer-application.
For those who want to help but don’t have the time to assemble a stocking or gift bag, donations can be made via check or online at www.partnersincaremd.salsalabs.org/e4e2023.
For more information, contact Origlio at email@example.com.