Samantha Slagle and her parents, Wayne and Helen Slagle, wanted to help local seniors during the holiday season – just not the holiday most people associate with giving.
"We were going to set up a Giving Tree at Christmas," Helen Slagle said, "but there were so many others we didn't want to compete."
Helen and Wayne Slagle are the owners of Home Instead Senior Care in DeKalb, and Samantha is the franchise's general manager. Last year, they began Stars & Stripes for Seniors, a month-long drive in July to collect toiletries and paper products.
"We identified that there are a lot of needy seniors in this area," Samantha Slagle said. "Many seniors lack the basic necessities we take for granted in our daily lives."
Samantha Slagle said donors are usually very generous at the end of the year. But by this time of year, donations are usually down, even though the need is still there.
From July 1 through 31, collection boxes will be set up at Walgreens and Lehan Drugs locations in Sycamore and DeKalb; at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, Batteris Plus, Sweet Earth, and Mudslingers in Sycamore; and at Heritage Woods and the Senior Services Center in DeKalb.
Items being collected include toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toilet paper, soap, shaving cream, disposable razors, lip balm and paper towels; no food or clothes will be accepted.
Samantha Slagle will deliver the donations to Elder Care Services and Colonial House, which will distribute them to those who need them.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," Elder Care Services Executive Director Tara Culotta said. Since her agency conducts senior home visits throughout the county, Culotta said they have an understanding of who needs help.
"We literally have clients who have to make the decision, do they buy groceries or get their medications?" she said. "It's sad, so when we can help them out, it works out nicely."
Last year, Samantha Slagle said they filled 70 laundry baskets with donations. Among the more interesting items they collected, she said, were pocket Bibles and plenty of lotions, which were apparently unused gifts from the previous Christmas.
"It's kind of like recycling," she joked.
Anyone who knows a senior who could use help is asked to call 815-754-1300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Instead Senior Care-DeKalb is also offering free home safety inspections to seniors in the community.