For many families, the holidays are a time for sharing memories and celebrations. One local organization is reaching out to the community to help give this experience to those who may be forgotten this time of year.
Freedomâs Colors will be hosting its 14th annual Christmas dinner and program on Saturday for the veterans who reside in the Alzheimerâs ward at the Dayton Veterans Hospital.
âThe Alzheimerâs ward is a locked, secured unit,â Freedomâs Colors Ralph Reynolds said. âTheyâre not allowed to go to a lot of outside functions â they donât have a lot of family, so we want to be a part of their family.â
During the Christmas dinner, the veterans receive a full Christmas dinner and individual gifts. However, what they really get out of the event is more meaningful, Reynolds said.
Reynolds said he has received feedback from the directors at the hospital that the patients show true recovery after the Christmas festivities.
Many of the veterans do not show much emotion because of their conditions, but, after spending time with Freedomâs Colors, Reynolds said they show their true personalities.
âWe come in as their families â we get them to dance,â Reynolds said. âJust to see the looks on their faces is unbelievable.â
Reynolds said he recalls one veteran in particular who the hospital staff said refused to eat.
âThey were just getting ready to move him over to the hospital,â Reynolds said. âThe day of the Christmas program, he ate two plates. The next week, [the hospital staff] called back and said, âthis guy has done nothing but eat.â
Reynolds said the veteran who had previously refused to eat was talking, dancing and interacting with everyone at the party.
Before the Freedomâs Colors program, Reynolds said the Alzheimerâs ward has no Christmas decorations, so they bring a Christmas tree and help make the ward more friendly.
âBefore we came, there were no decorations â it was just another day,â Reynolds said. âWe give them a Christmas atmosphere. Thatâs what we want to do, make it warm.â
Reynolds said he would like to give the community the chance to give their support to the program, by donating solid color T-shirts and sweatshirts in sizes large, extra large or extra extra large.
âWe have received support from veteranâs clubs in town, the Wapakoneta Middle School,â Reynolds said. âNow weâre reaching out to individuals in the community.â
Those interested in donating can call Reynolds at 419-230-1517. He said he would be happy to make necessary arrangements. Anonymous donations may be dropped off at 501 S. Rauthland Ave. in Wapakoneta.
âThe community is very supportive,â Reynolds said. âWeâve already been receiving donations â weâve got the community believing in us and what we do.â