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A story about the real spirit of Christmas

Tina Hutson is an Area Director for Central Illinois. She has been working for Help at Home for 24 years. But she has one story she says is her “all-time favorite.” It took place last year on Christmas Eve, which makes it fitting as we head into the holiday season.

Late Christmas Eve afternoon, the staff member who was on call contacted Tina. An elderly man had unexpectedly been discharged from a nursing home. He was being dropped off at an empty apartment in a senior high rise, with no furniture or food. The family member who had called was living in another state and was crying, asking what Help at Home could do.

When Tina called the family member, she learned that the man was not a Help at Home client; he had no money, and neither did the family member. And it was late enough in the day on a long holiday weekend that there was not much hope of reaching Senior Services until the next week.

But the Christmas spirit can be overwhelming, and Tina went to work. First, she found a caregiver willing to drop everything and help. Home care aide Yanika Batey rushed to the apartment to wait for the man, who was in a wheelchair and wouldn’t be able to navigate the situation on his own.

Then Tina started calling furniture stores in the area hoping to find a bed and someone to deliver it. She eventually found someone else apparently filled with the holiday spirit. He said he would deliver a bed after work in his own truck, so Tina bought a bed with her own money. Meanwhile, Yanika met the man and received the bed. Then she went to her own house to get sheets and blankets for the man to use. And on the way back to his apartment, Yanika stopped at the store to buy him some food.

The man cried, not believing their kindness. But the story doesn’t end there. Yanika took him Christmas dinner the next day and dropped in frequently over the weekend, because the man needed help with personal care.

Of course, the man is now a Help at Home client. Why would he go anywhere else after experiencing the generosity of heart and teamwork shown by Tina and Yanika that Christmas Eve?