WKU organizations give back during the holiday season

Anna Lawson

This time of year, people always seem to be in the spirit of giving back through volunteering, donations or small acts of kindness.

Two WKU organizations, Companions of Respected Elders, also known as C.O.R.E., and Sigma Phi Omega are getting into the holiday spirit and giving students a way to do the same.

Many residents of personal care homes do not have family and are forgotten during this season. Because of this, C.O.R.E. and Sigma Phi Omega are hosting a donation drive called Silver Bells.

Students can bring in anything from socks and gloves to popcorn and Kleenex. The drive will go until Dec. 12, and donations can be brought to Tate Page Room 201 or 241.

The drive gives the entire WKU community a chance to help those in their own community who are often overlooked during the holiday season.

Urmila Tokekar, the graduate assistant at Center on Aging at WKU, said the idea came about from Central City senior Kaleb Moore and Coldwater, Mich., senior Morgan Gruner, the president and vice President of C.O.R.E.

“Kaleb is very close to his grandma and being away from home, could not spend time with her. She is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing facility back home. So he thought of visiting older adults in nursing homes here in Bowling Green,” she said.

Moore said after a visit with his grandmother, he realized he needed to do something to make an impact.

“When I would visit my grandmother, I saw how much there was a need in these nursing homes,” Moore said.

From this, the duo decided to form a student group that could volunteer at nursing homes and be able to develop a one on one relationship with the residents.

“C.O.R.E.’s mission is to create a positive atmosphere where both individuals mutually benefit from the experience,” Tokekar said. “The purpose of C.O.R.E. is to provide an opportunity for students at WKU to deeply affect the lives of elderly individuals in the Bowling Green area. The students will do this by offering companionship, hope, and a chance to alter the life of another person.”

The cause focuses on developing a relationship between the older adults, who may be lonely or depressed in the nursing home, and the students. C.O.R.E. is open to all students. Upon joining, C.O.R.E. will match volunteers with a resident to visit. They also do group visits and activities. Anyone can come on these occasions, not just members of C.O.R.E.

“Everyone should contribute in what ever way possible for those people. Visiting residents and talking to them, not only makes the resident happy but also is important for the students. This makes the students become more compassionate and caring towards older adults,” Tokekar said. “Doing something for someone gives you a feeling of satisfaction, warmth and makes you a better person.”

Silver Bells will give people a chance to do just that. The donation drive is a project of the Barren River Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. The donations will be given to personal care home residents who have no family and are often taken care of by community programs.

“C.O.R.E is important to me because it has a unique idea. They don’t just volunteer at facilities, but they develop a relationship with the residents and that is initiated by the students,” Tokekar said. “Not everyone thinks about older adults in the same community and how lonely they can get.”

Moore said it’s important to help people who have less.

“It really gives people perspective and allows them to realize how much they really have. It is an experience that everyone should have,” he said.