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Deerfield Seniors Give Back to Hospitalized Children and Their Siblings for the Holidays

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- As Christmas fast approaches, residents at Deerfield Retirement Home have been up and active, stuffing stockings with toys and other goodies for some special recipients. They’ve been donating gifts to hospitalized children for seven years.

Last year, a resident who is a retired nurse, Pat Cooper, brought it to their attention that they should partner with Broadlawns Medical Center, whose mission is to provide medical care for the underprivileged. She also urged Deerfield to consider the siblings of those hospitalized children whose wish list might be overshadowed by their brother or sister’s health.

“It's tough when you have maybe a sibling in the hospital over the holidays and you kind of get lost in the shuffle as well. So we wanted to make sure that those kids, the siblings as well also receive something,” Director of Lifestyle, Justin Riesburg said.

For the past month, Deerfield seniors have filled a hundred Christmas stockings to gift to children admitted to Broadlawns and their siblings. When asked why they choose to do this every year, residents said they have five pillars. Those are to be stimulated socially, spiritually, intellectually, to exercise regularly, and eat healthy. Donating gifts to hospitalized children at Broadlawns Medical Center meets some of those needs.

“This fits into that socially, giving back. And it is spiritual for all of us. And so it’s just been a very worthwhile project,” resident, Dianne Werger said.

Stuffing stockings isn’t the only thing Deerfield residents do. They also read books to kids in Des Moines Public Schools, they collect food and clothes for Clive Community Services and the YMCA downtown, while also volunteering at different local organizations. Residents expressed how giving back keeps them happy and healthy but also they’ve lived fulfilled lives. To show gratitude for that, this is their way of paying it forward.

“We must all of us have had very good lives. And it's just, there is another side of Des Moines that needs help,” Resident, Pat Cooper said.

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