HOLT — A simple answer to a question inspired an annual tradition for a Holt girl who wants no senior citizen to spent Christmas alone.
A few years ago, Railey Conner and her family attended a church service with her great-grandmother, Roxie Buchanan, a Carrington Manor resident who has Alzheimer's disease. Afterward, the child wondered who was responsible for taking other Carrington Manor residents to church.
Click here for a link to Railey's 13th Birthday Project>>
"I had to explain to her that some (residents) don't get that," her mother, Angie Holland, said.
Instead of celebrating her birthday on Dec. 15, Railey decided to collect items for senior citizens at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The ultimate goal was to "share the love" with them during the winter holidays, she said.
Railey's Birthday Project is now in its third year. In 2012, residents donated toiletries, blankets and slippers, among other offerings. Railey and her friends made gift bags, which she gave to residents at Carrington Manor, Safe and Secure Respite Care, Crestview Manor and Silvercrest Manor.
Railey says it's important to remember that Christmas is for more than children.
"Thinking about kids during Christmas is great, but everybody does that," she said.
"These people (senior citizens) used to be our teachers, pastors or nurses," she said. "These are people we used to look up to. Even though we may not cross paths (with them) as often as we used to ... we still need to think about them."
Railey and her mother are looking for more locations to set up collection bins for the project.
As of this printed edition, the First Baptist Church of Holt (532 U.S. 90, Holt), the Crestview News Bulletin office (705 Ashley Drive, Crestview) and Freedom Tax Services Plus (417 Stillwell Blvd., Crestview), Holland's employer, are the only two locations.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.