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Home for the Holidays—The Spirit of Giving

Home for the Holidays—The Spirit of Giving

December 19, 2023

We are all familiar with the phrase home for the holidays. I truly love this time of year. Being the youngest of six children growing up on a farm in northern Iowa, I have very fond memories of hearth and home. It was magical for me as a child. My parents always had an extra seat at the table for those who found themselves alone around the holidays. I don’t recall them ever using the words charitable giving, but it’s what they did…even during times when they needed help themselves. Their charitable giving was done quietly all year around and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I recognized it for what it was.

At Ridgecrest there is a similar sort of quiet charitable giving going on and I was a little slow to notice it. Some of you may have heard about our big birthday party every month to celebrate all the birthdays for the month. It’s a fun time and enjoyed by all. For the first few months here, I noticed the stack of cards of well wishes that were piled next to the persons of honor and thought that was nice but didn’t give it much more thought. But then I had a birthday and found this stack of cards waiting for me one day. Many of our residents had made donations to the River Bend Food Bank in honor of my day. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of our residents. Quiet charitable giving is something that is all around us if we just stop and look.

We have an active Volunteer Service League at Ridgecrest Village with over 100 volunteers, residents and members. Tammy Crafts, Service League Program Coordinator said, “Through the birthday cards, hundreds of dollars are donated to the River Bend Food Bank each month all year long.” Residents also donate to an Angel Tree and a Friendly House Tree during the holiday season. Craft went on to say, “We are so thankful we have such a giving community here at Ridgecrest. Our volunteers are wonderful role models for all of us and for future generations.”

River Bend Food Bank connects food with communities and neighborhoods across 23 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois, with hubs in Davenport, Dubuque, and Galesburg. River Bend Food Bank Executive Director, Nancy Renkes said, “This fiscal year we are seeing a 35% increase in households we serve…29% decrease in donations.” Food bank spending is up 62%, including an 18% increase in food cost. Renkes went on to say, “When I think about what Ridgecrest is doing, I think 1 in 14 seniors face food insecurity today and are making decisions whether to buy medicine or buy food. Since the inception of the birthday card program at Ridgecrest in 2015, $36,000 has been raised equating to over 180,000 meals.” Seniors are helping seniors through this program.

The River Bend Food Bank continues to welcome food donations from food that would otherwise be thrown away, but cash donations are most helpful as it allows for purchase of bulk food items for healthy well-balanced meals. So, this year, rather than purchasing food at the grocery store to donate, please consider making a cash donation to the River Bend Food Bank, either by check or online at All proceeds stay local. What is more important than making sure people have enough to eat?

Home for the holidays will always be a phrase that congers up happy memories of hearth and home, but perhaps more importantly it will forever be linked to the season of giving. There are many ways you can give this season…through your local parish, food banks, homeless shelters, toys for tots, or maybe just slipping some extra change to the bell ringer outside the grocery store. This is truly the season of giving.

Working within a faith-based retirement community continues to guide me on a personal level as I’m reminded of the spirit of giving that guides this season before us. Wishing you all happy holidays from Ridgecrest Village!

Julie Arndt is a licensed social worker and Director of Marketing at Ridgecrest Village with over 30 years’ experience working in the field of geriatrics and senior advocacy.

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