Forget Me Not: Giving back warms the heart

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— Giving back to the community is an extremely important aspect of life. I never realized how important it was until I started taking donated flowers to the elderly nearly seven years ago after my grandma Mary Leavitt died in a nursing home.

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Noelle Leavitt Riley

I was 26 years old, and I was very selfish. Yet her death had a profound effect on me. It changed me. It changed the way I looked at the world. I felt compelled to reach out to those in nursing homes and spend time with them, listening to their happy and sad stories.

Because giving back is so important, I was incredibly touched when I heard about a local woman who stood at the checkout counters at City Market in Craig and paid for groceries for every senior who passed through. What a remarkable gift to give.

She simply ran her credit card for their transactions, giving them a financial break. After a little bit of research, I found out who this amazing woman is, and I contacted her. She humbly decided that she did not want her name in the paper, highlighting that her act of kindness is for others, not for herself. Amazing.

“There’s an awful lot of people in this town that do a lot of good stuff, but I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Jane Hume, one of the seniors whose groceries were bought for her. “I just dropped (into City Market) because I needed a few things, and I was amazed I didn’t have to pay for them.”

We could all learn something from this selfless example. Again, giving back is vitally important.

I also was touched this week by a press release I received from Lois Stoffle, of Maybell. A kinder group called Maybell Seniors has put together a wonderful event that’s slated for Friday and Nov. 1. The best part of it to me is the wonderful fact that it’s the elderly who are giving back in this case! Now that’s something to smile about.

The event is called the Annual Maybell Hunters Chili Supper, where a group of senior citizens cook large roasters full of chili for hunters and dozens of homemade pies. For almost 15 years, the seniors have prepared chili for hunters passing through Maybell.

“They love it, they just love it,” said Lois Stoffle, who is a member of the Maybell Seniors. “We have hunters come from California and others from Pennsylvania and they look forward to these dinners.”

I bet they do! Homemade pies and chili prepared from women who have been cooking for decades — you just can’t beat that.

Lois spoke highly of the senior group, explaining that they do more than give back to the community, they give back to one another. When someone is sick, they take food. They also take educational trips together to learn more about the beauties that Colorado has to offer.

Recently, the group went to Montrose, and they chatted and sang songs together on the bus. Talking to Lois about this amazing senior group warmed my heart.

The group keeps Lois company, as does her daily visits to Sandrock Ridge Care and Rehab, where her husband resides. He has Alzheimer’s, and it got to the point where she no longer could care for him. Now, she visits him and shares her time with other elderly in the nursing home. She helps them put on their clothing protectors (bibs) at lunch and gives them hugs as she passes by.

It’s stories like the ones I outlined that make life worth living. Times may be hard with our economy, and we may not always have something to smile about — yet, if we take time to give to others, our problems tend to melt away. Today, I’m grateful for being able to highlight the good works of Moffat County women for you.

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the managing editor of the Craig Daily Press. Her weekly column appears in the Saturday Morning Press’ Your Health section. She can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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