The gift of giving back

Bridesburg resident prepares for annual Adopt-A-Grandparent program.

Richard Garman will be this year’s angel for the Adopt-A-Grandparent program. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBIN STRATZ

It’s only the first week of November, but Bridesburg native Robin Stratz is gearing up for the most wonderful time of the year.

This upcoming weekend, Stratz, along with Amy Mari and Dawn Peterman, will host a penny party to benefit the Adopt-A-Grandparent, a program providing Christmas gifts to senior citizens who might not otherwise receive any.

Stratz started the initiative five years ago in October when her mom passed away at 68 from cancer.

“She was very giving. I wanted to keep her memory alive. So, I bought the gifts and we supplied them to a nursing home,” she said. “So, every year, I nominate a new angel and we go celebrate that person that night. We have a memorial there. And, we raise money beforehand and buy the gifts.”

The first year, Stratz’s mother, Rita Garman, was the honorary angel.

Proceeding angels included Denise Martin, Cora Mari, Joyce Sabatino, and Connie Houck.

Richard Garman, Stratz’s father who had dementia and passed away in February, will be this year’s angel.

In addition to remembering an “angel,” the main focus is providing presents to all the residents at the selected nursing home.

Prior to bringing the gifts to the nursing home, Stratz holds a fundraising event to purchase the presents.

Stratz ran two football pools to generate funds to purchase prizes for the main fundraising event, the penny party at Point No Point, which is donating the hall for the event.

After all monies are collected and gifts selected, Stratz wraps each one with a label in loving memory of all the angels who had an impact on Stratz and has passed away.

Each resident receives at least one, and sometimes multiple gifts during a prearranged Christmas party.

Previous nursing homes that were recipients of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program include Allegria at Oaks in Bensalem and Immaculate Mary Center for Rehabilitation & HealthCare.

“A lot of people at nursing homes don’t get Christmas gifts,” Stratz said. “Our gifts were the only ones given at the Christmas party.”

Gifts included a blanket and shower caddies filled with useful items.

This year, toys will be on the list for residents living on the dementia ward.

And, Stratz hopes to give back to the staff, too, for all that they gave to her dad.

Aside from spreading holiday cheer to those who may not experience it, it gives people an opportunity to remember their loved ones.

“The family can bring pictures and I have collages of the person at the event,” she said. “This event is for everyone there, but a lot of people who come, come in memory of these people. And, it just allows people to be together and reminisce and spread happiness to others.”

The Penny Party for Adopt-A-Grandparent will be held on Friday, Nov. 8 at Point No Point, 2843 Orthodox St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for raffles can be purchased at the event.  For more details, contact Robin at 215-219-8276.