Eric Swanson Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past 10 years, Corine Khoury and her sons have spent their holidays providing Christmas gifts for other people.
The Khourys are continuing their tradition this year, but they are working with Roff resident Bill Kelley to make sure nursing home residents have a merry Christmas.
As organizers of the Christmas 4 Nursing Homes campaign, Khoury and Kelley are collecting gifts for more than 600 nursing home residents in Pontotoc, Garvin and Murray counties. The two are seeking financial contributions as well as donations of pillowcases, pillows and other useful gifts.
Kelley said he was trying to convince local businesses to support a gift drive for nursing home residents when he talked to Khoury, who had already started a similar project.
“It touched my heart, hers, and boom, all of a sudden it seemed like we probably needed to just join forces on this and make it work,” he said Thursday.
People who wish to donate money or gifts to the campaign can drop off their contributions at Sharpe’s Department Store, 131 W. Main in Ada. The deadline is Dec. 15, which will give organizers time to sort through the gifts and prepare to deliver them to the nursing homes.
Kelley’s group, the Billy K Band, will accept donations for the project during an acoustic show Dec. 7 at the Santa Fe Cattle Company restaurant. The band will also give acoustic concerts and distribute gifts at area nursing homes shortly before Christmas.
The Khourys’ tradition of helping others at Christmas began about a decade ago, after Khoury broke up with her ex-husband.
Following the split, Khoury decided to tackle a community service project that would teach her children how to help other people. So the family started looking for ways to make people’s Christmas a little brighter.
In the past, the Khourys have plucked angels off the Salvation Army’s Angel Trees and bought gifts for poor children, and they have sent holiday packages to soldiers in Afghanistan. But this year, the Khourys turned their attention to residents of the Ada Retirement Village.
“We were just going to do fun pillowcases to brighten their day and throws, so every time we went to Walmart, we would just pick up something,” Khoury said. “The boys had a good time with it, getting to spend money.”
The family originally planned to take the gifts to Ada Retirement Village and give them to the residents. Khoury and Kelley later combined projects, and they decided to expand the campaign to cover nursing homes in Pontotoc, Garvin and Murray counties.
Kelley said several organizations sponsor gift-giving campaigns for children, but people don’t always think about nursing home residents during the holidays.
“There’s a lot of children’s programs, and who doesn’t want to smile when they see a child open a gift up?” he said. “That’s great. But it just seems like in the nursing homes, they seem to get overlooked a little bit.”
Khoury’s sons are participating in the campaign, which began with pillows and pillowcases. When Kelley joined the campaign, the list of possible gifts expanded to include throw blankets, socks, men’s hats, women’s slippers and other useful items.
Kelley said he would like to raise at least $4,000 for the campaign, or about $7 per resident.
“I think if we really bought right and we had some retailers helping us — wihich we’re working on that — we could do a lot for them,” he said.
Kelley said several local businesses have already agreed to make donations to the campaign.
Khoury, who manages Sharpe’s Department store, said she has placed a box at Sharpe’s to collect donations for the campaign. She added that Kelley is good at rounding up donations and asking businesses for their support.
“We were meant to find each other to do this together,” Khoury said.