It’s an act of compassion and a show of love for volunteers who put together a breakfast for senior citizens every Christmas.
This will be the fourth annual Christmas breakfast for seniors and Tessa Brawn has volunteered at every one of them. She wouldn’t trade the early Christmas morning effort for anything.
“Just the feeling you get in the morning when they all have a smile on their face makes it worth it,” Brawn reflects. “They all say thank you. Some cry.” And, she adds, they all come and go from there with smiles on their faces.
The event was started by ACE administrator Sandy Balascak. She got the idea back in 2011, mere days before Christmas. The term was wrapping up and Balascak started to wonder about the senior citizens who had no family or friends with which to spend Christmas. Within five days, she and her students, including Brawn, had put together a breakfast and served about 35 seniors.
It has continued to grow every year, with about 70 seniors attending last year. The amazing thing about the breakfast, Balascak shares, is it is completely donation-driven. From the food to the gifts, the kitchen staff and servers to the use of the legion, it’s all done through the generosity of local businesses and individuals. Volunteers include legion members, Agassiz-Harrison senior peer support group members, ACE students and grads and other kind-hearted locals.
“The community really pitches in,” says Balascak. “The volunteers come back year after year.”
Right now, organizers could use a few more donations of gifts. Balascak recommends buying gift cards to local stores and restaurants. Gifts can be dropped off at the Agassiz library. They are also looking for a donation of beverages other than coffee for the breakfast.
Senior citizens have told Balascak that, without this breakfast, they would have nothing to do or no one to spend Christmas with. This gives them a social outing on what could be one of the loneliest days of the year.
“The energy from that room is almost indescribable,” says Balascak. “Everybody’s having a great time.”
The breakfast runs from 8-10 a.m. at the Agassiz legion hall on Dec. 25. The event is free but you do need a ticket, available at the legion hall or the library until Dec. 24.