Christmas comes early for Cove Nursing & Rehab residents
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The residents of the Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center received Christmas cards and presents during their annual Christmas party Thursday afternoon.
The cards, handmade by 2nd grade students from Williams/Ledger Elementary School and other members of the community, were collected and then delivered by Lisa Sherwood, manager of the Copperas Cove Amy’s Attic Self-Storage, as part of the Community Through Cards initiative. The students also made a banner to hang up on the wall in the nursing home.
The gifts came from community members and staff through the Angel Tree program at the nursing home and were passed out with the help of Santa. Some gifts included body wash, perfume and body sprays, winter coats, a pair of black boots or stuffed animals and baby dolls. One resident, Barbara Simmons, received Word Find activity books and the fruit cake she had asked for.
Trae Cunningham, Area Director of Marketing for Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehab, said that this party and all the items given to the residents were very important to them, especially the ones whose families aren’t able to visit.
“They love it,” Cunningham said of the residents’ reactions to the party. “This is their home.”
On Christmas Day, the celebration continues with more activities, but this early Christmas party allowed for more people to celebrate with the residents, he added.
Residents and their friends and family members enjoyed a Christmas lunch featuring ham, turkey and all of the sides from candied yams to macaroni and cheese to green bean casserole. The food was prepared and served by friends and family of Jacqueline Malone. Malone said that her church, Greater Vision Community Church of Killeen, had once sponsored the nursing home’s food for their Christmas party several years ago. Even though the church no longer officially sponsors Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehab, Malone and her family and friends continued to help each year, with this year marking their fourth year of helping out, doing what the Lord has called on them to do, she said.
“It’s been excellent,” Malone said of the response from residents. “The reins have changed here but the residents love it.”
Malone also enlisted the help of her friends from church to sing Christmas carols for the residents.
Ellen Elliot shared that the group loves sharing anything about God and Christmas and singing for people who may not hear this type of music normally.
“We just love to sing and love to share it and that’s all we did and to God be the Glory,” Elliot said.
The residents were also treated to a visit from Bruno the therapy dog and his owner Stephanie Malley, with Canines for Christ, an international Christian-based animal therapy ministry.
Staff members and residents alike knew Bruno by name and lavished him with pets during his visit Thursday.
Bruno, a 2-year-old German Shepherd/Lab mix who is AKC registered as an All-American breed, sat and laid on the floor by the nurses’ station when he wasn’t following Malley as she assisted Santa in passing out presents.
“The residents here love him, obviously, and he is their therapy,” Malley said.
Therapy dogs differ from service dogs. While a service dog would be trained to perform tasks for their owner, therapy dogs are trained to be able to go into situations and provide comfort for other people. Bruno is trained to be calm and relaxed amongst the noise and movement and wheelchairs of the nursing home.
When the residents rub on Bruno, they are lowering their blood pressure and relieving their anxiety, Malley said.
During their regular visits, Bruno also assists residents who are doing their physical therapy and acts as an incentive for them. He also accompanies some residents outside and lays on the beds of those residents who are bed-ridden.
“We try to come when they have functions because the residents love him,” Malley said. “We just have a great time, he loves it here.”