Collecting teddy bears, pill bottles and sending out cards: These are the actions of a group of seniors in Williamsburg who have chosen to make a difference in their community.
However, it is inaccurate to call them a group because they are in fact The Group.
The Group is a small collection of residents from Parker View Senior Apartments who work to support communities and nonprofit programs around the globe.
MJ Vaticano, a member of The Group, said the club started out as a way for the members to get together and do something. When they met they would color, do crafts and chat.
However, eventually, as Vaticano said, “I put the kids to work.”
The first project The Group did was write Christmas cards to troops overseas. Last year they sent 450 cards through the USO. This year, Vaticano said The Group’s goal is to send 1,000 cards. The ladies had written 800 by Thanksgiving.
The Group is also collecting teddy bears for Wellspring Methodist Church. The bears are given out to all ages at the hospital for radiation, chemotherapy and dialysis treatments.
“I have to tell you I’ve given the bears to grown men, and if you ever want to see a seven-year-old come out, they hug the bears,” Vaticano said.
In addition to those in the hospital, Vaticano said the stuffed toys are given to police to keep in the back of their cars. That way if they assist an accident involving a child, they can give the child the toy for comfort.
The third project The Group has become involved in is collecting pill bottles. Vaticano said some third world countries do not have the money to distribute medication in bottles, and it is often given out to people with bare hands.
While a local church used to collect pill bottles for this cause, it eventually stopped the collection. Vaticano decided it would be a good idea for them to pick up the project.
What Vaticano wants people to know is that she and the other members of The Group are still active members of the community.
“We’re not just sitting on our tushes,” Vaticano said. “We are still here and we have a lot to give to the community.”
Want to help?
The Group is accepting donations of unused Christmas cards with envelopes, clean orange medicine bottles without the labels and stuffed toys.
You can drop off your donations at the manager’s office of Parker View Senior Apartments, 100 Parker View Court.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.