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Hamden Senior Gift Run Spreads Holiday Cheer -- And More

Students serenade and shower gifts on Hamden seniors at the Senior Center.

There may not have been sleigh bells at the Hamden Senior Center Wednesday, but there certainly was music!

Now in its second year, the Senior Gift Run is growing to be quite a success. The idea is simple: a number of local partners team up to collect gifts, organize a holiday lunch and a sing along for seniors at the center and even those that are home bound and unable to attend.

Donations were sought from local residents and the locations and times of donations were broadcasted on radio station WQUN. The donations included an assortment of gifts from snuggies to non-perishable food items; cash donations were also accepted.

Seniors from all over the Hamden area showed up in force to sing along with the Senior Center’s choir led by Eric Buggie, a singer/songwriter and director of music at the center.

As the group sang some of their holiday favorites, 50 students from the Hamden Middle School Choir showed up en masse to surprise the group and lend their voices. Local artist Nick Grasso joined Buggie on the piano with his own instrument, the accordion. The seniors had an opportunity to listen to the concert and also enjoy a meal prepared by the center.

One senior, Ralph Lambert, 86, began going to the center when his wife of 58 years passed away.

“It’s good to get together and talk back and forth," Lambert said. "I enjoy it --otherwise you’re alone all day, it’s not good to be alone all day.”

Lambert is a long-time resident of the area. At the age of 65 he retired from his position as a foreman for the East Haven Public Services Department after 44 years of service.               

The Gift Run began last year as a partnership between the Hamden Senior Center and WQUN. The station, in the words of the center’s Director Suzanne Burbage, is “really is the catalyst for the whole event.

"They broadcast the times and locations where the donations can be made, they gather the contributors throughout the town to help make the holiday presence happen for our seniors,” she said.

Burbage points out that not only does the center plan fun events, but the real goal is to connect seniors to the social services, such as rent rebates and energy assistance, available to them in the state.

“For those that are qualified, this is a way that may help them through an economic hardship,” she said.

For more information about the center, call 203-287-2547. For social services, call 203-287-2691. For adult children worried about mom and dad, information is available at www.Hamden.com -- look for “Elderly Services” under the “Departments” link. The Center is open Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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