As the holidays consume a big part of our lives and we cautiously gathered with loved ones for Thanksgiving, I look back on the past year and a half, recalling many Thanksgivings past. The years growing up in Brooklyn, New York, where I was surrounded by family, and years that were a bit lonelier after my relocation to California, soared through my mind’s eye. Since then, the only year we did not have a day with others was last year, but Grandpa and I found a way to make it special for just the two of us.

Another part of this season is reflecting on things that were important and others that should have made no impact on me at all. Weeding through those two can be a challenge, but as Grandpa says, ‘What will it matter in five years?’ He is right. I look around my home and feel gratitude and yet there are others who barely have enough to eat or even a roof over their head. That brings us to the time to share and to make someone else smile during what can be a very difficult time of the year. There are a lot of national charities and they all do great work but for us, local is best. Kaleidoscope, providing smiles for those affected by cancer and their loved ones that care for them, Shepherd’s Gate, a local women’s shelter giving a safe harbor for women and their children and An Elderly Wish Foundation (AEWF) that grants wishes to those in Contra Costa County over age 50 who have a chronic or serious illness and would like an opportunity to do something on their bucket list, all have my heart.

Recently, AEWF granted three local seniors one of those wishes, which I would like to share with you. A son and daughter wrote about their dad who has stage 4 cancer. The gentleman is a local Oakley resident and he wanted to go to Disneyland. The family received tickets to the park, a hotel for a 4-day, 3-night stay and the entire trip was set up by this charity. The Happiest Place on Earth became just a little bit happier, indeed!

The next miracle is about a father who wanted to see his son who he had not been able to visit with for 10 years. AEWF flew his son in from the Philippines and another gentleman battling cancer received the gift of a lifetime. The wishes are not only about trips or visits. Someone I know personally was in dire need of sliding drawers in her kitchen so she could easily get to her pots and pans. Without missing a beat, they came to the rescue and had the drawers installed for her.

This charity, like all others, relies on donations and the community reaching out to share with those that are feeling the holiday blues. It is not just granting wishes anymore; they do other wonderful things to make the season brighter as well as all year long.

Their Santa for Seniors event is yearly and held at a different senior venue each year. This year, they will visit Hillcrest Memory Care bringing bags of goodies and smiles -- courtesy of our local East Contra Costa County Board of Realtors and their generous donation -- to the seniors who reside there. White Pony Express provided adorable stuffed animals, as well to top off each bag. Our beloved seniors are to be cherished and never forgotten about.

AEWF is happy to be back granting wishes after a year on hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions. With precautions, of course, they continue to bring a bit of joy to those that need it the most.

For more information about donating or requesting a wish for someone, call Mary Chapman at 925-978-1833 or visit their www.elderlywish.org. And be sure to mark your calendar for Feb. 5, their annual fundraiser with the title Fiesta for Wishes at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center in Antioch. AEWF would love to receive gift baskets or gift certificates from local businesses for the raffle prizes. It’s a win-win for all.

Have the very best holiday season from our home to yours!

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