Local nonprofit gives to nursing home residents
SALYERSVILLE – A local nonprofit group spearheaded by a Magoffin County High School senior made the holidays a little brighter for residents at the nursing home.
Kisha Ann Collinsworth, a 17-year-old senior at Magoffin County High School, explained to the Independent that this was the second year her nonprofit group, Helping Hearts, which is focused primarily on bringing gifts to the nursing home residents at Salyersville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
When she started the group, Collinsworth said, “Around Christmas, we hear about toy drives for kids, coats for children, books for toddlers, etc., but I never really heard about anyone doing anything for the elderly.”
Collinsworth’s grandfather is a pastor and has church services at Salyersville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, so she had heard the stories about some of the residents enjoying the service, the prayer and the company, which inspired her to want to do more.
“Last year, my main focus was getting established in the community and purchasing things that I thought the residents could benefit from (lotions, soaps, deodorants, etc.,” Collinsworth said.
“This year, I was given access to the residents’ Christmas lists and actually got to get them all EVERYTHING that was on their lists.”
Collinsworth said she rewrote the residents’ lists on index cards and gave them out to people in the community.
“More people were willing to help this year because it was more personal and heartwarming knowing they were serving a resident themselves,” she said.
Just like Santa, Collinsworth checked each list at least twice, with over 240 gifts purchased in total, to make sure the residents got everything they wanted (plus a little bit more).
“If someone asked for a TV, they got one,” she said. “If someone asked for socks, they got an abundance of them.”
The Southern Brothers Motorcycle Club, which has five chapters in Kentucky and one in Virginia, chipped in, again, this year, not only donating, but also helping to distribute the gifts and providing pizza the night of the distribution.
Her grandfather’s church, the Fritz Church of God, gave them a place to organize the gifts and make sure each of the residents received what they wanted and more, Collinsworth said. The church gave a generous donation to the cause, as well as helped transport and distribute the gifts to the nursing home.
In total, it took five vehicles just to get the gifts to the nursing home.
Collinsworth said she was able to pull off the big day with a lot of help from her friends and, of course, her biggest supporters: her mother Christy Russell, her aunt Lisa Patrick, her cousin Zach Carty, and her grandmother Mary Ann Patrick.
“I am very proud to be from such a close-knit community that has always been supportive and never fails to contribute to any youth-driven organization,” Collinsworth said.
She said this year they were able to spend a little more time with the residents this year, connecting more with them individually.
Three residents made an everlasting impact on her, she told the Independent.
“One was a little lady that had asked for a purse,” Collinsworth said. “When she opened her gift and saw her cheetah purse, she cried and shook all over. I will never forget the joy on her face and her reaction.”
Another woman thanked her repeatedly, but her response stuck with Collinsworth.
“I said, ‘I hope you have a Merry Christmas,’ and she replied with, ‘I have because of you.’”
Collinsworth also remembered a man that asked for gospel CDs and songbooks.
“Upon giving him his gift, I said, ‘Merry Christmas, I hope you enjoy everything you received!’ and he replied with, ‘Thank you so much. I love my gifts and I love you,’ followed with a hug. To me, it is not about all about the gifts. It is about being a friend to those who have no one and allowing them to feel loved.”
While the MCHS senior is planning on pursuing an education in the medical field and her schedule will be undoubtedly tight, she said she does not want the Helping Hearts initiative to end.
“With a very supportive family and church family, I know that the end is not near,” Collinsworth said. “I am very confident that they will support me for years to come and be there when I need them to do things.”