ST. MARYS — Throughout the holiday season, Elk Haven Nursing Home provides Christmas cheer activities to warm the hearts of its residents.

The holidays are a special time for everyone, said EHNH Activities Director Bonnie Gausman, which is why it’s so important to bring some cheer inside the St. Marys facility.

“We do our best to make their holiday as special as possible,” she said. “Visits from the community, whether it be from a group or organization or individual, help make the holidays extra special for residents.”

During the summer and fall months, residents go on field trips, visiting places like the Elk Country Visitor’s Center in Benezette. During winter, though, they spend their time inside.

“Many residents have little to no family, and very much miss the days of family gatherings,” Gausman said. “We treat Elk Haven as our home, and mimic family traditions as much as possible, but it’s still not the same.”

EHNH brings several musical groups in to perform for the residents, such as school bands and choirs and church choirs, too, Gausman says.

The residents also get to bake holiday treats, too, which is a favorite of theirs, as well as receiving visits from some cute furry friends with Santa hats.

“We have therapy dogs that visit on a regular basis, too, that come dressed in their Christmas best,” Gausman said. “We take photos of the residents with the therapy dogs by the Christmas tree.”

The facility is actively seeking volunteers who are willing to provide entertainment, assist with in-house activities or simply stop by to spend time with residents.

“Visitors and volunteers are truly the highlight of our residents’ days,” Gausman said. “They truly enjoy pieces of the community coming in, especially when they are limited in their ability to go out.”

People who aren’t able to visit the nursing home can help in other ways, such as donating necessity items such as body wash, lotion, powders, socks and snacks, Gausman said.

These items are either distributed to residents or used as auction items during the “resident auctions,” which are held four or five times a year, Gausman said. Each resident is given $10 in monopoly money, and an auctioneer assists in the bidding process. Auctions are another popular activity among residents.

For more information on how to get involved this holiday season, visit the EHNH Facebook page, or call 814-834-2618.

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