Silver Key gifts, volunteer visits bring holiday cheer to seniors living at home

       Joe Lucero could think of happier times. His eyes brightened when he recalled growing up in Bear Canyon near Trinidad or jobs he's had working with horses.

Joe Lucero enjoys the gifts of Thanksgiving cooking supplies and a visit from volunteers Terry Gitzke (left) and her daughter Nicole as part of Silver Key Senior Services' Holiday Project that will also include the Giving Tree in December. He was one of about 500 seniors who received such Thanskgiving drop-offs.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Now in his elder years, living carless in the Meadows Park area near busy Lake Avenue, with his wife passed on, only a daughter to visit him and no plans for Thanksgiving, he said what he'd really like is to move out of Colorado Springs to one of the smaller towns in eastern Colorado.
       But for a short time Nov. 20, Lucero enjoyed some holiday cheer, courtesy of Westside-based Silver Key Senior Services, 2250 Bott Ave. Volunteers Terry Gitzke and her daughter Nicole (a seventh-grader at Cheyenne Mountain Middle School) dropped by with a bag of mostly dry goods that could help with a Thanksgiving meal, and talked with him for a while inside his house.
       The Gitzkes were among about 225 volunteers who delivered such bags and companionship to 500 seniors in Colorado Springs in the days before Thanksgiving. The effort was part of Silver Key's Holiday Project, which started with the “Stuff the Bus” campaign Oct. 23, in which shoppers at five area King Soopers (including the Uintah Gardens store) donated more than 5,000 pounds in non-perishable, Thanksgiving-type food items.
       The eventual bags that went out with volunteers such as the Gitzkes each contained a canned vegetable, no-bake dessert, potato product, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and yams, plus a $5 certificate to King Soopers (purchased by Silver Key with a grant from the Edmonson Foundation).
       The effort is part of Silver Key's ongoing efforts to help out seniors who are trying to live on their own. Companionship is part of the Thanksgiving theme. “Volunteers who agree to make the care-package deliveries are also invested in visiting with seniors who might be lonely, isolated or in need of a friendly face,” said Anne Temple of Silver Key.
       The Holiday Project will climax in December with the annual Giving Tree event, in which specially marked trees are erected at Silver Key and around the community. People who want to help out can pick ornaments from any of the trees that specify different types of gifts seniors would like.
       Another recipient on the Gitzkes' volunteer run Nov. 20 was Sid Carlton, who lives with his wife Edna in the Cheyenne area. Carlton is proud of having been in the U.S. Navy in World War II, serving on warships in eight invasions in America's Pacific Ocean struggle against Japan.
       Terry Gitzke, a Cascade resident, said she had volunteered for Silver Key through an affiliation with the National Charity League, which encourages mother-daughter philanthropy. “It's our first time with Silver Key,” she said. “We're excited about it.”
       Anyone wishing to volunteer for Silver Key's Holiday Project can call 884-2319.

Westside Pioneer article