CENTREVILLE — Amy’s Army, created in the memory of the late Amy Stoops Rhodes, 30, who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage just a few days after her wedding, October 10, 2015, and died Christmas Eve 2015, has continued to live up to the memory of Amy’s life and her passion for loving those she served and cared for. Last month, the organization of just over 20 members, decided to tackle raising the spirits of individuals who have possibly suffered most during the pandemic over the past year — seniors living at long term facilities. Those cut off from family members and grandchildren they’d love to see and give hugs to.

Event organizer Melissa Dodd credited board member Staci Ostrowski with the idea of doing this for seniors. The group decided to make those seniors in such facilities Valentine’s Day truly special, delivering special items they asked the community to donate. Those items included snacks, sweets, Valentine’s Day cards, fragrant body wash and lotions, throw blankets, non-slip socks, simple bird feeders to be placed outside their windows, word search and puzzle books, and nail polish.

“The response from the community has been amazing!” said Dodd. “We’re truly grateful for what was donated. This group of seniors have been facing loneliness like I can’t imagine.”

The response was so great, Amy’s Army was able to add another senior care location to their list. The plan was to provide these items to seniors at Peake Healthcare at the Pines in Easton, and Corsica Senior Center in Centreville. The donations surpassed that plan, and Autumn Lakes Healthcare in Chestertown was added. The donations were presented to the activities directors at each location prior to Valentine’s Day.

A letter to the residents accompanied the gifts, stating “First and foremost, on behalf of Amy’s Army and our entire community, we want to thank each of you — the residents, for enduring the challenges and loneliness of 2020 and 2021.” The letter also thanked the care workers and support staff.

The letter continued, “We know the past few months have seemed endless, and have left so many of us with heavy hearts. However, we have also witnessed the magic that can happen when people are brought together to overcome these challenges. . . In that spirit of community, perseverance, and giving, the idea to “Share a Smile with a Senior” was born. We hope that these items bring many smiles, a glimmer of hope, and the promise of a much better year to come.”

Dodd indicated some donations have been mailed and probably will arrive late. She wants to assure everyone who has contributed that their donations will still go to the facilities where they were intended, and enjoyed by the seniors, late or not.

Ostrowski added, “This event came together as a way to that we could provide light to what has otherwise been a dark series of months for many, especially in our long term facilities.”

Several groups made noteworthy donations including students from local elementary schools who made over 500 Valentine’s Day cards. This effort was organized by local Queen Anne’s County Public Schools educator Megan Borga, whose grandmother, Irene Day is currently of the Corsica facility. Bridgetown United Methodist Church made donations in memory of the late Connie Shortall, aunt of Amy. Also, Shore Riders 4-H Club and Dream Riders 4-H Club, both donated a large numbers of sweet treats.

The employees at Dixon Valve in Chestertown contributed, and Ostrowski gave a special thanks to Callahan Gas, Inc., Queenstown Pizzeria, Eastern Shore Performance Center, and Doc’s Downtown Grille for serving as drop-off points for donations from the public.

The next sponsored activity for Amy’s Army is their annual Blood Drive, Sunday, March 7, at American Legion Post 296, inside their pavilion at 6200 Main Street, Queenstown, beginning at 10 a.m. Schedule an appointment online at https://donate.bbd.org/donor’schedules/drive_schedule/6262 or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 and use reference code “Army”.

Amy’s Army is a 100% volunteer fund component of Chesapeake Charities, Inc., a registered 501(c)3 charity, so donations are tax deductible. Financial donations can be made out to Amy’s Army, and mailed to P.O. Box 171, Queenstown, MD, 21658.

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