Local groups give needed ‘blessing’ to area seniors

PARKERSBURG – Seniors who receive Blessing Bags prepared by the volunteers of FaithLink and other organizations often appreciate the gesture as much or more than the supplies inside.

“Big smile on their face, lots of thank you’s,” Anne McFee, director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, said of the reaction when she delivers bags. “I’ll see people months later, and they’ll thank me again.”

The bags contain non-perishable food such as soup, canned fruits and vegetables and peanut butter, as well as other items that could be useful in an emergency, like a rescue blanket and flashlight. They’re distributed to isolated seniors who might not be able to leave their home to get food and the like – or have someone else get to them – during a blizzard or other emergency.

The bags also provide an opportunity to show those seniors they’re being thought of and cared about, said Karyl Krulicki, FaithLink director.

“We usually get cards or calls to thank us for them,” she said. “We feel really blessed to be able to help.”

Krulicki and 10 volunteers and people who work with area seniors gathered Thursday morning at the Volunteer Action Center in Parkersburg to assemble 500 Blessing Bags to be distributed to FaithLink care recipients, individuals who have meals delivered by the Wood County Senior Citizens Center and others in need.

The annual Blessing Bag effort started about 20 years ago with the senior center and eventually was taken over by FaithLink, said Rod Poling, director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council’s Senior Companion program.

“FaithLink seemed like the logical place to have it so we ended up here,” he said Thursday as he unpacked items for the bags.

Sisters and RSVP members Linda Leach and Judy Robinson were among the volunteers circling the room and placing items in the bags. It’s one of several volunteer activities in which they participate because they enjoy “just helping people out,” Robinson said.

“We’re never still,” laughed Leach.

Food and other items for the bags were donated by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and Comfort Keepers, along with some purchased by FaithLink. In addition to the senior citizens center, Christ and First Lutheran churches and the Foster Grandparent Program also participated.

“We’re really lucky to have the collaboration with the other agencies,” Krulicki said.