Bringing Joy to Others

Did you know there are over 14,000 older and disabled adults that are forgotten in nursing homes during the holidays? Every year the Council on Aging – Southern California collects, wraps and delivers thousands of special gifts to frail and lonely adults through our SmileMakers Holiday Project.

The SmileMakers Holiday Project has been funded entirely by our community for the last 26 years. For us, it’s the heart of the holidays.

We rely on caring community members like you to make this possible. Residents in these long-term care facilities request small items such as slippers, lap blankets, sweaters, and sweat suits.

In 2018, we delivered 5,827 gifts to isolated older and disabled adults. Your kindness made this possible.

The impact of the SmileMakers Project is heartwarming for everyone involved. We receive precious handwritten thank you letters filled with joy from these seniors for their sole holiday remembrance.

“Dear dear people, my heartfelt thanks to SmileMakers for the lovely and needed jacket you gave me at Christmastime. God bless you for the work you do. I am 87 years old, have arthritis and two knee replacements and use a walker. Your generous gift did make me smile!” – Alice

“Thank you so much for the nice new jacket for Christmas. It was the only gift I received and meant so much more to have you think of me. It will keep me warm all winter and I will wear it on cool evenings. Thank you.” – Ruth, 81 years old

The measure of our community is how we treat our older adults.

“A kindness given…thoughtfulness shared…goodness bestowed…these are all things that will long be remembered. Thank you for the very lovely gift.” – Hazel, 87 years old

“Thank you very much for the shawl and the slippers. You are most kind to a lonely and destitute person. Much appreciated.”  –Kathleen, 93 years old

Every year, with deep heartfelt gratitude we read the letters and listen to the messages we receive. Some are touching; some bring tears to our eyes. We even received a letter from a former Ombudsman, who now resides in a long-term care facility and received a gift this year.

So remember to live every day with joy and a generous heart. Because as we all grow older, one day you may be on the receiving end of a SmileMakers gift and you too will have been remembered.

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If you found this story inspiring, please consider making a donation to help the Council on Aging – Southern California continue to help older and disabled adults in our community who need our support.