Christmas Party Helps Area Seniors “Celebrate the Reason”
On December 3, nearly 400 seniors dressed in their festive finery descended on the Abbington banquet hall in Glen Ellyn for the annual Salvation Army Seniors Christmas Party. They enjoyed a lovely lunch, sang Christmas carols, and received gifts – a mug and some dark chocolate covered nuts. The theme was “Celebrate the Reason.”
“Our goal is for people to have a fabulous time celebrating the birth of Christ,” said Major Debra Dalberg, Older Adult Ministries Director for the Army’s Chicago Metropolitan Division. “And it’s a fun opportunity for seniors to get dressed up and go someplace nice.” Though this was the 15th Christmas party she’s planned, she said she still got a kick out of getting up on the stage and seeing the sea of red clothes in the audience.
Fern Hacker, an 81-year-old attendee of the Army’s Mayfair Corps Community Center, has been coming to this holiday gathering since 1981, when she was a volunteer taking the “older ladies” to the event. Though she’s now in the target audience, the 62 and older crowd, she still brought five others in her car this year. “I like coming to this,” Fern said. “It’s part of the Army experience!” That army experience, she said, gives her fulfillment by allowing her to “serve the Lord and people at the same time.”
Major Alisha Cho, one of the corps officers at Mayfair, said she enjoys accompanying a group to this party every year, which she says always uplifts their spirits and brings them joy. “I love to see them all smile,” she said.
Smile – and laugh and sing – they did. The program this year included a “DIY Christmas Story,” consisting of lyrics to classic songs (including “Proud Mary,” “I’m a Believer,” and “California Dreamin’”) rewritten to tell the Christmas story. A band of retired Salvation Army officers led the crowd in the sing-along, which occasionally gave way to laughter and dancing.
Georgia Brown, who lives at The Salvation Army’s Booth Manor Senior Residences, said this gathering means a lot to her. “I love getting out and enjoying life like this.”
Major Dalberg heard similar feedback from other seniors who attended the party this year. “Several told me it was wonderful, others that it kicks off the Christmas season for them. One first timer said she loved it and will be back.”