From items found at Junk in the Trunk, donated to the Gulfport Senior Center and organizations around Gulfport, a group of local volunteer “elves” saw a purpose: repairing walkers, wheel chairs and shower-related equipment to give to those in need.
The lead “elf” regularly volunteers with area Tampa Bay veterans’ groups and knew there was a need for medical equipment at Alhambra Health & Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg.
“It’s not your typical nursing home,” the elf said. “It’s for very low-income patients.”
The staff makes sure patients in need get medical equipment or clothes, said the elf. When an item is given, it may not be the “newest or best, but many times it’s either something they need and don’t have or it’s a replacement for, and in better condition than, what they do have.”
The elf noted that Alhambra is in major need of clothes, shoes or slippers, and blankets or comforters for their “anyone closet.”
The elf explained that when patients come in, they often only have their hospital gown and one set of clothes.
Enter Gulfport resident Nancy Caffee, a retired home health registered nurse and volunteer at the city’s Senior Center. She was recruited by the lead elf for the team because of her medical connections and work at the Senior Center.
The elf asked her to visit one of Alhambra’s patents, who is a veteran, and Caffee said, “Well, maybe he needs some stuff too.”
Some of Caffee’s former patients live in area care centers and need medical equipment on a temporary basis.
“The Senior Center has a back room full of donated walkers, wheel chairs, commode chairs and things like that,” she said. “So, through me, I can get things that maybe Alhambra would need.”
Clothes are also often donated to the Senior Center, but these items need to be redistributed elsewhere, the elf said. The Senior Center’s manager knows the Gulfport Elf Team can make that happen.
Gulfport resident Lou Worthington, one of the elves, also watches for medical items to arrive at the city’s Junk in the Trunk events.
“He gets the items, repairs them, then works with the elf team to deliver the equipment to where it is needed,” said the lead elf.
Other elves in Gulfport also volunteer for item acquisition, repair and delivery efforts.
“I am retired, but I volunteer at the Senior Center and with community teams for certain things,” said Caffee.
Anyone who would like to join the elves, or who has items to donate, is welcome to contact Nancy Caffee at the Gulfport Senior Center, 727-893-1231.