December 26, 2008 in City

Their pockets not deep, but seniors still help out

Group in subsidized housing works with Salvation Army, adopts 3 families for holidays
By BRAD W. GARY Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Rosemary Duthie can remember weathering tough economic times.

Duthie and other neighbors at Lewiston’s Highlander apartment complex still don’t have much to give at Christmas.

So when residents of the government-subsidized senior citizens community began chipping in extra food and supplies to help a family in need this holiday, Duthie said she felt all the more impressed by efforts of her neighbors.

“I’m really proud of these people, because a lot of them they don’t have a lot themselves,” said Duthie, pointing to a stack of supplies donated by residents.

The apartment building’s rec room normally houses card games and Bible study, but has served as a storage warehouse for the donations.

What started with a hope to adopt one family through the Salvation Army later expanded when residents collected everything from boxed food to paper towels and frozen turkeys. Residents have since chipped in enough supplies, including food gift cards, to adopt three families this season. The supplies are scheduled to be delivered this week.

“It really exploded, didn’t it,” resident Lenore Miller said earlier this month, taking a break from a card game to sort through the piles of donated items.

The apartment complex is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Duthie said many of the residents have less than $1,000 in income coming in each month. But Duthie said it’s always the person with the least that ends up giving the most.

“It’s amazing to me that they’re the first ones to start bringing them in,” she said.

Apartment service coordinator Bob Rosenberg initially kept the donations in his office, but he said the task became impossible once supplies started pouring in. A buffet table inside the rec room was later filled with piles of donated food and supplies.

Rosenberg called the effort, which started with a humble donation box wrapped in paper, “marvelous.”

“They’re not just thinking turkey, gravy, potatoes, we’re not there just to give them a meal, we’re there to fill their cabinets up,” Rosenberg said.

Their support goes back to a time when many didn’t have the supplies to make it themselves, fellow senior Jane Albert said. Many of the residents remember having nothing, Duthie added.

“My parents lived through tough times, they were always frugal,” Albert said. “And I am, too.”

This Christmas was the first that residents of the apartment have come together to help during the holidays. Duthie said they chipped in with relief after Hurricane Katrina, but never sponsored a family for Christmas before.

“We just hope that it makes things a little easier for them,” said Duthie.

Duthie said she has received plenty of help in her lifetime. The neighbors just hoped their efforts made it easier for a few families in need.

“I think people like to know there are other people that care,” Albert said.


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