November 23, 2014
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Holidays made special through meal program
AP: Stew Milne)
As part of its Turkey Express program, Stop & Shop associates from left, Ozzy Monteiro, Kevin Millard and Shawn Lynch, kick off the holiday giving season Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 with the delivery of 1,000 turkeys to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in Providence, R.I. The turkeys will aid more than 65,000 people in the Rhode Island relying on the food bank's help to meet their basic food needs.

Mayor Allan Fung announced that the 28th annual Holiday Meals Program for Thanksgiving and Christmas has been scheduled. The Thanksgiving delivery will be held on Nov. 21 and the Christmas delivery will be on Dec. 24, both from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Each year for the holidays, the Cranston Department of Senior Services provides prepared meals to Cranston seniors age 60 and older, who will spend their holiday alone. The Thanksgiving meal will include roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, peas, apple pie, fresh fruit, milk and juice.

For 92-year-old Elaine Silk of Cranston, it is not just a meal; it is the highlight of her Thanksgiving Day.

She is just one of the hundreds of seniors who will spend their Thanksgiving home alone or with their spouse this year in Cranston. Last year, the Department of Senior Services, with the help of volunteers, delivered more than 500 Thanksgiving meals in Cranston. The same number was also delivered the day before Christmas.

Silk is looking forward to her Thanksgiving this year, as she will have the opportunity to greet a visiting volunteer, personally bringing her meal to her in a bag decorated with seasonal drawings on them prepared by local schoolchildren. Silk had been active at Cranston Senior Services in the past, and this will be her second year receiving a Thanksgiving meal. After her husband passed away two years ago, Silk has spent the holidays alone. Her daughter must spend the holidays working at a local hospital.

“It helps,” said Silk. “You get to speak with the volunteer and enjoy a delicious meal and it makes you feel a part of society and a human being, not just another number.”

Silk was born in New York, but spent most of her life in Cranston. She had been going to the Cranston Senior Center “since they put the key in the lock” 24 years ago.

Now alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas, a volunteer will once again deliver her a meal.

“If there was no holiday meal, it would just be another day and not exciting. I would just listen to the radio all day,” she said.

Silk was formerly employed at Cherry & Webb, the Outlet and Browne & Sharpe.

She still keeps busy and visits the Senior Center when she can, and does crossword puzzles to keep her mind sharp. She encourages other seniors to also sign up for a holiday meal and to join the Cranston Senior Center to stay active.

“I am so grateful that people deliver these holiday meals,” said Silk. “It just brightens up the holiday season.”

If you know anyone in Cranston 60 years or older who will be alone on Thanksgiving and or Christmas and would like a meal, contact the Cranston Senior Center at 780-6000.

“As in years past, Senior Services is looking for community assistance in delivering Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Last year, in addition to Mayor Allan Fung and other elected officials and city employees, the Cranston High School East and West football teams volunteered to assist with the Thanksgiving Holiday Meals Program,” said Nancie Paola, co-director of the Department of Cranston Senior Services along with Ray Sinapi.

Also on the receiving end this year is 70-year-old “Sarah” [she requested her name be withheld], who will also be alone on Thanksgiving. She has been receiving holiday meals for the past several years after losing three of her four children in the past five years.

“It feels wonderful to hear that knock on the door, especially in my situation, and to know there is a volunteer there waiting to deliver the holiday meal,” she said. “I can’t do the things I used to do and it is financially hard now. Without the holiday meals and the volunteer’s company while delivering the meal, the day would go by just like any other day.”

Once employed in the office of the former R.I. School of Nursing, Sarah also receives Meals on Wheels on a daily basis.

Cranston’s holiday meals are supported through funding by the Cranston Senior Services Advisory Board.

If you are willing to volunteer your time in assisting with the assembling and packing of the Thanksgiving meals, contact Volunteer Director David Quiroa. You can help to brighten up the holiday for seniors such as Elaine and “Sarah” and the hundreds of other people who would not enjoy the holiday meal so many of us enjoy.

“Ray Sinapi and I feel that Holiday Meals is a favorite because it truly brightens the day for seniors who are alone,” said Paola. “The bags that carry the meals are beautifully decorated by local schoolchildren and the meal is fresh and complete.”

To volunteer to deliver, call Quiroa at 780-6180, or to have a meal delivered, call Social Services Director Jennifer Kevorkian at 780-6254.


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