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Minot pair spreading holiday cheer for those isolated in assisted living

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 4:17 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. – The pandemic has isolated older generations from their loved ones. Two women at the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University came up with an event to help bring senior citizens some joy.

This year has been unlike any other for Mary Ann Fitchner, an assisted living resident. The pandemic bringing many hardships to the older population.

“I think a person really has to really dig down within oneself to keep positive and to keep your faith. It’s been a challenge,” said Fitchner.

Fitchner said that she is not alone.

“There has been some loneliness and maybe some depression. I think many of us feel the same way,” said Fitchner.

Two local women from Minot State University saw the need to bring extra holiday cheer to this group of people, creating Gifts for Grandparents.

“With the holidays coming around the corner, and not knowing what that’s going to look like for them, are they going to be able to see their families, knowing they won’t be able to celebrate in the traditional way we just wanted to do something to help,” said Jessica Reiswig, event organizer.

Both organizers having family ties with assisted living centers, making gifts for grandparents that much more special.

“My parents have been in assisted living and we spent every day up there with my parents. So, we became family with a lot of the residents up there and seeing what they are going through now is heart breaking,” said Cheryl Merck, event organizer.

Through Gifts for Grandparents, they are encouraging the Magic City to donate a small gift. The gifts will all be wrapped, then will be delivered to local assisted living residents to open on Christmas day.

“I think it is just a wonderful thing and I think it will make the holidays extra special for a lot of people,” said Fitchner.

The pair said they are expecting to bring in hundreds of small gifts to residents this Christmas season.

If you would like to donate or drop off items or learn more about the event, you can visit their Minot Gifts for Grandparents Facebook page. The last day to donate gifts is Dec. 15.

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