2013-11-22 / Community

Elder Elves ready for busy holiday season

Group has organized holiday gift baskets for senior citizens since 1991
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Ornaments hanging from the Elder Elves’ Christmas tree list items needed for gift baskets. Approximately 60 gift baskets are expected to be donated to the elderly in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel who are spending the holidays alone. All donations must be returned to the bank by Monday, Dec. 16. (Alex Acquisto photo) Ornaments hanging from the Elder Elves’ Christmas tree list items needed for gift baskets. Approximately 60 gift baskets are expected to be donated to the elderly in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel who are spending the holidays alone. All donations must be returned to the bank by Monday, Dec. 16. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK – For its charitable holiday gift donation, the Senior Center at Lower Village has erected a Christmas tree at Norway Savings Bank on Route 1.

The tree, whose ornaments list items needed for gift baskets, is intended to help spread holiday cheer to the elderly in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel who live alone and/ or have no family with whom to celebrate the holidays.

The Senior Center opened its doors in 1990, and the volunteer group known as the Elder Elves began donating their holiday services in 1991. Since its inception, said Executive Director Susan Pettit, the center has never before marketed the charitable tradition to the public.


The Senior Center at Lower Village placed a Christmas tree in the lobby of Norway Savings Bank as a means of marketing its charitable holiday tradition. From left are Senior Center Executive Director Susan Pettit, Norway Savings’ Maureen Bear, Elder Elf and Senior Center trustee Maureen McKenzie, Senior Center’s Amanda Peterson and Norway Savings’ Jason Fitzgerald. Since 1991 volunteer Elder Elves have solicited donations and assembled gift baskets for elderly in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel. (Alex Acquisto photo) The Senior Center at Lower Village placed a Christmas tree in the lobby of Norway Savings Bank as a means of marketing its charitable holiday tradition. From left are Senior Center Executive Director Susan Pettit, Norway Savings’ Maureen Bear, Elder Elf and Senior Center trustee Maureen McKenzie, Senior Center’s Amanda Peterson and Norway Savings’ Jason Fitzgerald. Since 1991 volunteer Elder Elves have solicited donations and assembled gift baskets for elderly in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel. (Alex Acquisto photo) “Usually they just visit different businesses around the area asking for donations,” Pettit said. “The businesses in Kennebunk have always been so good to us,” Pettit said.

A major reason for the center’s marketing this year, said Pettit, is to raise awareness that “these people do exist in our community, and they are vital to it. I can’t think of anything worse than being alone on Christmas Day,” said Pettit.

In past years, the center has provided gifts to approximately 60 to 75 seniors. This season the Elder Elves anticipate preparing approximately 60 gift baskets.

“We try to focus on people who are shut-ins and what they really need, like blankets for warmth,” said Amanda Petersen, volunteer and activity coordinator at the Center.

Other items in the gift baskets range from winter hats and scarves for men, jewelry for women, sums of money, gift cards to Hannaford and books of stamps. The gift baskets are delivered to the recipients on Christmas Day along with their Meals on Wheels delivery, said Pettit.

“Really, I didn’t think about there being older people living alone with no family,” Petersen said, who recalled taking care of her grandparents. “But there are seniors right in this area who are very much in need this holiday season.”

The giving tree located in the lobby of Norway Savings Bank has paper ornaments hanging on its branches with items listed on each: men’s hat and scarf, $15 donation, and book of forever stamps.

Residents who wish to donate may take an ornament, purchase the item(s) listed and return both back to the bank. Boxes for the donated items are located at the foot of the tree. To donate money, see a teller for a secure envelope. Donated checks must be payable to Elder Elves. Each item, before it is given away, will be wrapped.

The Elder Elves usually number 15 or so volunteers, but that number is not fixed, said Petersen, who encourages more volunteers to join the cause.

“We hope the community will come together and hopefully we won’t have to do any fillers,” Petersen said in reference to the Center dipping into its budget to purchase last-minute items.

“And we’re very grateful to Norway Savings Bank for letting us set this up,” Pettit said as she motioned to Jason Fitzgerald, assistant vice president and manager of the Kennebunk branch. Fitzgerald is on the board of trustees for the Senior Center.

“It really was a no-brainer,” Fitzgerald said. “We are more than glad to help and contribute.”

“This is just a wonderful thing for the community,” Petersen said. “And it goes along with our mission: providing a meeting place, meeting new friends, and companionship. That’s what we’re here for.”

Donations must be returned to Norway Savings Bank by Monday, Dec. 16.

For more information on how to volunteer as an Elder Elf or other questions, email Amanda Petersen at amanda@seniorcenterkennebunk.org or call 967- 8514.

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