It’s one moment in time.
A moment to forget the pain.
A moment to forget the loneliness.
A moment to be loved.
That’s what the Angel Tree project of The Sealy News means to the residents of The Oaks and Silver Lake retirement communities in Sealy.
“I see their pain. I see their needs,” said Shirley Meadows, property manager for Silver Lake.
The Angel Tree is a Christmas tree adorned with tags bearing the name and gift wish of the residents of the two retirement communities. Volunteers come to the newspaper office, select a tag, purchase and wrap the gift, and return it to the newspaper with the tag attached. The gifts are delivered to the seniors at a Christmas luncheon at Tony’s Family Restaurant.
“On that day I get to see joy. On that day I get to see happiness,” Meadows said.
This year The Sealy News will have the tree up on Nov. 27 (although the office will be closed Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving). Gifts are to be returned to newspaper office by Dec. 11 and will be given to the seniors at the party on Dec. 17.
Meadows said there are about 100 residents between the two communities. Many of them live off an income of about $800 a month, some less.
“The idea that somebody cares enough about them to buy them something means everything to them,” Meadows said.
She said some of the residents feel too ashamed to ask for much.
“On lady said she only wanted a small bottle of dishwashing liquid because it was something she couldn’t afford,” Meadows said.
When the residents do get their gift, their faces just light up, which is something Meadows said she rarely sees the rest of the year.
“They’re in pain and this gives them something to look forward to,” she said.
The meal at Tony’s is also a treat.
“Most of them can’t afford to go to a restaurant,” she said.
Meadows said that 21 of the residents are in their 90s and the oldest in 97. Many are alone, having outlived their families. She said some have to bear the burden of broken promises when relatives say they’re coming to visit or to take them home for the holidays and it never happens.
When The Sealy News began the Angel Tree program, attitudes changed.
“The town woke up and said ‘hey, they’re over there!’” she said.
Sealy News General Manager Amy Lieb said the Angel Tree is something everyone looks forward to each year.
“My staff and I look forward to assembling the Angel Tree every year,” she said. “We begin getting phone calls of when it will be up in October.”
Lieb said it’s heartwarming to see the outpouring of love through the program.
“Our community is the best that there is,” she said.
Meadows called the event “blessings and godsends.”
“That first year I cried the whole time,” she said.
And she knows that what comes around goes around.
“We have to think about one day it might be us,” she said.
The Angel Tree will be located in the lobby of The Sealy News at 193 Schmidt Road. For more information, call 979-885-3562.