Hundreds of bags line the hallways of the Golden Age Center in Vernal, each filled with cookies, fruit, blankets, shampoo and other essential items carefully placed by volunteers.
Their destination? An oft-forgotten population: Homebound seniors.
“This is the worst time of their year,” said Sub for Seniors organizer Tiffany Henline. “No one brings them a plate of Christmas cookies. Nobody visits. We’re trying to make it better for them.”
Sub for Seniors’ goal is to bring a little Christmas cheer to seniors who are without family or without means to leave their home. The program is completely funded by community donations.
When ‘Sub for Seniors’ began in 2014, they were able to give one small gift bag with some food to 93 seniors. Four years later, 200 seniors in Uintah County will be receiving a full bag of food items, including fresh baked bread, and a second gift bag with personal hygiene items, activity books, and small presents.
“There is a forgotten world that quietly goes dark one day," Henline said. "This (program) is bringing light to this group."
Hazel Biesinger is a delivery driver for the Golden Age Center. Sometimes she's the only person the 50 seniors on her route will see on a regular basis. Biesinger said the reactions she sees when the gifts are delivered is special.
“A lot of tears," Biesnger said, "but they’re all very thankful."
Without the support of the community, Henline said moments like that wouldn’t be possible.
“This is what our entire community has done," she said. "Not one person, not one business, the whole community.”