The Lebanon Senior Citizens Center was one of the first places to close when COVID-19 hit, and that means fundraising has taken a hit.

But on Friday, the community came together for a Halloween costume contest and raised nearly $1,300 for the facility’s work helping seniors through the pandemic.

“The funding goes into daily operations to help continue programs, and we’re still offering services in the meantime,” Director Patti Watts said. “The staff continues to come in daily, and we try and reach out and call people. We’re also doing grocery shopping, curbside pickup and delivering homebound meals.”

Watts estimated the center is delivering 80 meals a day and an average of 60 curbside pickups. On high-traffic days the number of pickups has measured closer to 130.

“For a lot of seniors, the curbside pickup and deliveries are the only time they get to see another human being right now,” she said. “It gives them a reason to get ready and brush their hair, and they love being able to interact with somebody.”

Those driving through for lunch on Friday were also there to trick-or-treat, and a cast of costumed characters greeted them. Employees from Elmcroft Senior Living, The Pavilion Senior Living, American National Home Health and Avalon Hospice joined the senior center’s staff in dressing up for the occasion, and guests could donate to vote for their favorites.

“I wake up every morning and I want to provide value to people I speak to, whether that’s a resident or a client,” Elmcroft Sales Director Michael Tonietti said. “So what I’m going to be able to do here is create laughter for people and pass out candy to their grandkids. Some of these kids wouldn’t have been able to go trick-or-treating because they’re being raised by their grandparents and they can’t walk them out.”

Tonietti helped Watts bring the community partners together for the fundraiser and said the cause is important to each of them.

“As far as being able to benefit the Lebanon Senior Center, they do a lot of great work in the community,” he said. “This is a way we can show that we love and support them and we’re going to help in any way we can.”

Kelsey Wilmore, a clinical liaison at American National Home Health, is a regular volunteer at the senior center and brought some new helpers on board for the holiday.

“We volunteer every week to hand out meals to the seniors since COVID, and we love to see their faces light up,” she said. “I brought my kids today because I knew they’d love seeing their costumes.”

The adults also came dressed in their best, from a complete set of crayons to Raggedy Ann and the Statue of Liberty.

“We’re always willing to participate in anything the Lebanon Senior Center is doing,” The Pavilion Director of Marketing and Sales Victoria Harrison said. “The senior center is such an important part of town, and it’s important to take care of the senior community.”

Watts said the event surpassed her expectations and helped the seniors in the community have a safe Halloween experience.

“Everybody had fun, there was a lot of good energy and all the businesses that participated had a good time talking with everybody,” she said. “Our members who talked to us also said they loved it. This year with people not being able to trick-or-treat, it was something fun they were able to do, and we really appreciate everyone who partnered with us to make it happen.”

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