Donations to the four eldercare homes operated by Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. during the Covid-19 pandemic have been received with gratitude.

“During this unprecedented time, we are grateful for the outpouring of generosity from donors.  COVID-19 has impacted everyone, yet individuals and companies have responded to our call for assistance as we care for this vulnerable population,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities.

Among the items donated were cloth masks, N95 masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, bleach, toilet paper and food. There were even donations of corn hole games so the residents could have something to do outside and a Wii game for inside activity at one home.

“Covid-19 has required us to change our normal operations from everything from dining to activities to infection control,” Pinard said.

To do this, additional costs have been incurred, so the donations have been especially helpful.

For in-room dining, the homes had to purchase TV trays. To create isolation units, they had to purchase equipment and supplies and move residents.

“The donations helped us financially as some of the items donated would have been products we would have had to purchase,” Pinard said, noting that some of the products like masks, face shields and hand sanitizer were hard to find given the demand for them. “These donations provided us with much needed product to continue to keep staff and residents safe.”

Residents and staff are required to wear face masks so having additional cloth face masks allowed people to have more than one as they need to be washed.

The donations of letters, games and activities helped keep residents’ spirits up as they had not been able to leave the property and until recently could not see family/friends in person but only through videoconferences. “Keeping residents active is important for mental and physical health,” Pinard said.

Aimie Garland of Island Pond and her mother, Brenda Whitehill, made masks and   donated 136 of them to the eldercare homes — 50 each to St Joseph’s Home in Burlington and St. Joseph/Kervick Home in Rutland and 36 to Michaud Manor in Derby Line.

Garland used to work at Michaud Manor as the administrative assistant and was happy to supply the homes with masks. “It was like helping extended family,” she said.

Cindy Gorton, administrator at St. Joseph/Kervick, expressed thanks for all that was donated to the residence including letters from students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. “They enclosed an activity, and many had handwritten notes — which is a thing of the past. All my residents have kept their letters and notes as it was from an unknown person that spent time and reached out to them to give them comfort,” she said. “You can’t buy that.”

—Originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.