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Senior bowlers in Parkersburg rack up gifts for others

Joe Rader gets ready to throw a practice ball at the Pike Street Lanes where the senior bowling leagues raised enough money to buy Christmas gifts for 100 residents of local nursing facilities who otherwise would not receive a present. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

PARKERSBURG — Seniors are helping seniors in a bowling league at the Pike Street Lanes in south Parkersburg.

More than 230 seniors in the leagues throughout the year pass a bucket and collect donations to purchase gifts for residents of senior nursing and living facilities who otherwise won’t get a gift for Christmas.

“This is seniors giving back to seniors,” Shirley Thomas, who works at the bowling alley and is an organizer, said.

The project started about 20 years ago, Thomas said. It has grown over the years, she said.

“We started out with 10 seniors,” she said. “Now we have 100.”

From left, Sharon Seaman and Shirley Hunt stand amid the gift packages bound for seniors at local facility who otherwise would not have a Christmas gift. Donations were collected during the senior bowling leagues at Pike Street Lanes. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

Five senior leagues participate, of which each bowler is older than 55, Thomas said. Gene Oliver, 88, is the oldest man and Ellen Griggs, 90, is the oldest woman in the leagues.

Seniors who receive a Christmas package each receive three gifts, worth from $25 to $30, Sharon Seaman, a bowler and volunteer, said. She and fellow volunteer Shirley Hunt try to make the money go as far as possible. Also helping are Shirley Wright and Ann Chapman.

Most of the time the seniors ask for clothing like pajamas and slippers, Hunt said. Razors and other hygiene items also are popular, simple things most people take for granted, she said.

Among the bowlers in the league are James Rader and his brother, Joe, and Brooks Layman of Lubeck.

“It’s good fellowship,” said Layman, who has bowled in the leagues for about 15 years.

James Rader is from Coolville.

“That’s why our team is called the Cool Cats,” he said.

Rader not only enjoys bowling in the league, he knows his donations go to a good cause to help senior citizens.

“Amen,” he said.

Over at the lanes is Seaman’s husband, Bud. Sharon, his wife, is a good bowler, he said as he prepares to start his round.

“She’s one of the best here,” he said.

The gift packages will be taken to the seniors in the coming weeks in time for their Christmas parties, Thomas said.

Seniors reside at the Willows Center in Parkersburg, Ohio Valley Health Care on Nicolette Road, Parkersburg Care Center, Eagle Point in Parkersburg, Harmar Place and Heartland in Marietta.

The donations received through the leagues are deposited into checking accounts, one for the gifts and the other for a flower fund, Thomas said. Special collections also are made whenever the nursing facility has a request or an emergency need, she said.

The generosity of the bowlers is special, Hunt said.

“I have met so many nice people through bowling,” she said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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