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Photos/Angela Reinhardt Jasper Fitness owner Kristina Jenkins, smiling at center, has organized a nursing home holiday gift drive for three years. Here, Jenkins, Jasper Fitness employee Shali King, left, and other employees and members of the gym get ready to dole out gifts at Pruitt Health.

Exercising Christmas cheer

            Mid-afternoon December 15, members of Jasper Fitness’ Silver Sneakers and Sassy Seniors fitness classes played Santa for a day, delivering holiday gift bags to every resident of the three nursing homes in Pickens County. Many donned Santa caps, holiday sweaters and outfits, and made nursing home residents’ Christmas a little brighter.

            At around 11 a.m. on delivery day, carts that served as Santa’s sleigh were loaded with gift bags and wheeled down the halls of Pruitt Health. A few children associated with the gym helped with deliveries, with the very first of those going to the nursing home’s oldest resident, an 102-year-old lady who gave one little girl a big, affectionate hug.

            This is the third year the local gym has hosted the nursing home drive, and according to owner Kristina Jenkins it was the biggest one yet. The drive – along with the Adopt-A-Senior initiative at the Pickens Senior Center – was promoted in a recent Pickens Progress article and Jenkins said do-gooders came out of the woodwork.

            “I couldn’t believe it,” she said tearing up. “We started having boxes shipped from Amazon; people would come in who didn’t have memberships to donate. I was blown away with how this community came together. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough to start, but in the end we had more than enough. I just thank everyone so much.”

            The day before the gifts were delivered to each resident – personally and one-by-one to their rooms – around 45 members of the gym gathered for a Christmas pot luck and assembled each of the 151 bags.

            Items included things like warm socks, blankets, wet wipes, lotion, tissues, small goodie bags, and slippers. In addition to Pruitt Health, bags also went to residents at Grandview Health Care Center and Wildwood Health.

            “Seniors go sometimes without anyone visiting them, and we just wanted to let them know someone  cares,” Jenkins said.

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