The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on many people, but with assisted living facilities limiting visitors for several months, many seniors have been isolated from their families, friends and community. When the opportunity arose for Severna Park High School seniors Edie Deegan and Anders Hansen to give back to the many assisted living communities in Severna Park, they dove in headfirst.
The two friends established Snacks4Smiles in late July to partner with local businesses to bring smiles to the staff and seniors at six local assisted living facilities.
The idea struck Deegan while she was picking up her brother from work at Donut Shack.
“I was waiting for him and he was taking out a ton of trash,” Deegan said. “It was all boxes of doughnuts, like 20 boxes. I just thought it was wasteful and then I talked to Anders and we decided we should do something with them.”
A former Donut Shack employee, Deegan reached out the shop’s owners and they were excited to donate the leftovers.
“The previous owners had a situation where they donated to a church when I worked there, but the new owners hadn’t figured something out,” Deegan said.
Deegan and Hansen agreed that they should donate the treats to a group of people who needed the smile the most: seniors.
“We decided the best place to donate them would be assisted living and nursing homes because they haven’t been able to see their families with everything going on with the coronavirus,” Hansen said. “We thought it would just be something nice to do for them.”
Hansen registered Snack4Smiles as a charitable organization and limited liability company. Though they are currently paying the fees with their own money, they are considering accepting donations, which would be used entirely for the charitable work and not for profit.
The duo reached out to the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging & Disabilities and were put in touch with all of the assisted living facilities in Severna Park. They currently deliver to Spring Arbor Senior Living, Household of Angels Assisted Living, Heartlands Assisted Living, Abby Cottage, Brightview and Heart Homes three nights a week with the help of five volunteers.
Though they have not been allowed to go inside, Hansen and Deegan were told by the nursing home staff that the residents look forward to their weekly deliveries.
“Different nursing homes have different rules,” Hansen said. “Some you can go in and some you just have to drop it off and do contactless, but a lot of them said when this is all over they want us to come in and meet everybody.”
Eventually, Hansen and Deegan would like to have more volunteers and expand their deliveries, but they have held off due to the coronavirus.
“We can only have people that we really trust to volunteer for us right now because there are so many safety precautions we have to take,” Hansen said.
Hansen and Deegan are currently applying to colleges. Though they are not sure how their roles will change in Snacks4Smiles after graduation, they would like to expand to include more vendors, senior living homes and volunteers this year.