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Whistlestop in San Rafael delivers holiday greetings to homebound seniors

Whistlestop in San Rafael delivers holiday greetings to homebound seniors

Erika Vaughn, right, Whistlestop’s Meals on Wheels program supervisor, delivers food, Christmas cards and gifts to Rita Jones, 75, of San Rafael on Friday. Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal

By Stephanie Weldy, Marin Independent Journal

POSTED: 12/18/15, 6:17 PM PST 

Seventy-five-year-old Rita Jones opened the front door of her San Rafael apartment Friday afternoon for her routine Meals on Wheels visit.

Not only did she get fruit, milk and a plate of braised turkey with seared kale during the call, but she also got a bundle of holiday greeting cards from community members she’s never met.

One card wished her peace and happiness. Another, from a local Girl Scouts participant, featured a handcrafted winter scene with a snowman made of cotton balls.

Jones, who is paralyzed on the left side of her body and uses a wheelchair to get around, said the cards let her know she’s not forgotten.

“It’s nice knowing someone cares about you like this,” she said.

This is the fourth year San Rafael-based Whistlestop has collected greeting cards from members of the public to give to home-bound seniors they serve through the meal delivery service, Meals on Wheels. The cards are a way to bring a little bit of joy to clients, Whistlestop officials said.

“They’re home by themselves, a lot of time maybe no one is coming to bring them cards,” said Erika Vaughn, Whistlestop’s Meals on Wheels program supervisor. “It’s just the happiness and the joy that someone would care enough to bring them Christmas cards.”

The senior center put out the call to the community seeking signed cards for 250 senior clients they serve through Meals on Wheels. Thirty disabled Marin residents, under the age of 60, are also served through the program through Nourish. This year, the senior center received more cards than last year, with roughly 2,800 cards coming in from local Girl Scouts troops, and students from San Rafael High School and Marin Country Day School. Each senior is to receive 10 cards. Home Instead Senior Care also donated 50 gifts, ranging from throws, scarves and more, to be given to the seniors.

As Vaughn distributed cards, along with meals, she was greeted with a tight embrace, and a kiss on the cheek by one client. After handing two bags to the senior, she was handed a gift in exchange. The cards the client received will be placed around her San Rafael home to make it a bit more festive for the holidays, she said.

Jones said she’s been receiving the cards through the program for a few years. With cards from last Christmas, she has them displayed throughout her residence.

“I put some on my coffee table and I like to sit down and look at them,” Jones said.


Stephanie Weldy covers San Rafael and Novato news for the Marin IJ. Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @StephanieWeldy1.

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