Athens police officer organizes holiday gift bags for nursing home residents

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ATHENS, Ala. -- A holiday habit for an Athens police officer is making a big difference for people who might otherwise be forgotten in Limestone County.

Sgt. Katrina Flanagan started the Gifts for the Elderly program last Christmas and has been hooked on the smiles of Limestone County nursing home residents.

"Most nursing homes you go to at Christmas time....they're empty," she said. "No one's there visiting anybody."

But she did visit. And brought along more than the gift of holiday cheer.

"Day to day things that we take for granted are such a gift to them," said Edie Belue with the Limestone County Health Facility.

Flanagan creates a gift bag, each is personalized with recommendations from nurses with care not to affect anyone's health. They're filled with items like mint-scented lotion, word puzzles, a deck of cards, a hairbrush, and fluffy socks.

"I know it's simple gifts and most people would look over that," Flanagan said. "But they absolutely loved them."

Flanagan plans on continuing this tradition--- of making gifts for the elderly--- every Christmas she can manage. She hopes, with enough donations, she can extend the gift giving to multiple nursing homes in Limestone County.

Instead of item donations, the program is asking for monetary donations of just $15 to create a gift bag and make the day of an elderly resident. All items are purchased new and will be customized to the resident's needs. This year the program hopes to provide 200 gifts.

For more information, you can email Flanagan at giftsforelderly@gmail.com.

Donations can be dropped off at the Athens Police Department.

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