For seniors living at Woodland Pond at New Paltz, generosity isn’t all that unusual. Local food pantries have come to rely on what the elders donate each week. But Christmas time also called for something special — a Giving Tree. The tree — like the ones sponsored by some churches — came decked out in ornaments listing a needed gift, plus the age and gender of the recipient.
“It’s been toys. It’s been clothes. It’s been cash,” explained Sarah Hull, the director of residential services for Woodland Pond. “This is the second year we’ve done this. The residents are really generous.”
Woodland Pond adopted two families this year for the purposes of gift giving. Family of New Paltz is the beneficiary of those gifts. The local shelter and food pantry found the needy families and helped facilitate the gift exchange.
The tree — near a window in the cafeteria — was piled with toy cars, clothes, notebooks Lalaloopsy dolls and a teddy bear. Len Kapner, a resident of the independent living section of the home, said he was excited to give.
“It’s a Christmas thing to do,” Kapner said. “There are people who are less prosperous than we are.”
Many of the people living in Woodland Pond come from New Paltz or the area. Kapner and Marilyn Di Lascio, another Woodland Pond resident, hail from Santa Monica, CA and Toronto, respectively.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to give back to the community,” Di Lascio said. “It’s good to be able to help people who are lacking things. And we’re kind of like a family here.”
Lisa Cea, Woodland Pond’s concierge, also happens to be a volunteer with Family of New Paltz. She’s the reason why the retirement community decided to help the charity.
In her four years at the continuing care retirement center, Cea has taken up the weekly or biweekly collection of food from the seniors.
Woodland Pond’s giving tree last year was — as it is this year — one among many. Altogether, Family brought gifts to about 500 kids in 2012.
Normally, the gift drive goes to help kids up to the age of 15, but this year Family of New Paltz decided to add the mothers of the family to the list, Cea added.
For more information about Woodland Pond, head to https://wpatnp.org/.