Build-A-Basket program gearing up for 15th year

Nov. 10—It's easy to take for granted running into the store to grab laundry soap and paper products or jumping in the car to fetch a grocery pick-up. For older adults who are homebound, getting those necessities can be tricky though.

That's why the Build-A-Basket project started 15 years ago by Generations Area 13 Agency on Aging and Disability is so important.

"Build-A-Basket gives community members a chance to collect those household and personal care items we often take for granted and give them to older adults in need who have been identified through Generations," said Generations Healthy Aging Program Coordinator Alma Kramer.

Kramer said Build-A-Basket was born out of project that started when her daughter, Kelsey, was in second grade.

"Her class had been writing to a penpal through another Generations program and they wanted to give that penpal a gift," said Kramer who suggested to Kelsey's teacher that students bring in basic necessities to create a basket. "There had been a lot of calls with people needing basic needs."

Kramer said Kelsey's teachers shared the project with project with others at the school and before long, several classes had created baskets to give to older adults in need. That first year, over 300 baskets were given to those with social or financial need and Build-A-Basket was born.

Build-A-Basket continued to grow from there and now, trying to fill an even larger need, Generations has started Build-A-Basket by the Month.

"We currently have over 800 baskets that are needed for our homebound clients in the six counties we serve," said Kramer. "For some of our clients, this is the only gift they receive and it means a lot to them. To try to get as many baskets created as possible, we decided to do a collection for certain items each month. One month it may be paper products and another month it may be hygiene items. We were able to get enough items through the monthly collection to do around 40 baskets."

Much like the program itself, the list of possible items for the program has also grown. It started with around 20 items and now more than 30 items listed but Kramer said the possibilities are almost endless.

"These are just some suggestions. We have some people that do a theme and they may do a laundry themed basket or kitchen necessities basket," said Kramer, who said Generations does ask that no candies or other food items be placed in the baskets for diabetic reasons.

"We have some people who put their items in a new laundry basket or trash can. You can use any type of container you'd like. We even have some families that do this as part of the holiday gatherings. Each person brings a certain item or two for the basket."

Kramer said Build-A-Basket can also be project for church groups, civic organizations, classrooms and more.

"It can be a fun and meaningful project for so many," she said, adding baskets should be ready between Nov. 27 and Dec. 20.

The Washington Times Herald office, 201 E. Main St., will serve as a drop off point for individual items. Completed baskets can be dropped off at Senior and Family Services, 211 E. Main St., Washington, or Shoals Senior Center, 409 Courthouse St., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Generations at 812-888-4527 or akramer@vinu.edu.