FULTON, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Even though the grass is still green, members of Oswego County OpportunitiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Senior Services Division are already planning for another winter season.
Each year, with the help of caring businesses, organizations and community members, OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Senior Services Division prepares and distributes hundreds of Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to seniors throughout Oswego County.
The Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ program provides OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s senior clients with an emergency supply of food in the event that they are unable to receive their regular home delivered meal due to inclement weather conditions.
Each bag contains an assortment of food items along with a note explaining the purpose of the bag and a cheery hello from the person who created the bag.
Last winter more than 500 Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ were delivered to OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home delivered meal clients with another 100 distributed to clients at OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dining and activity sites.
With the Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ project entering its fourth year, managers at each of OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eight senior dining and activity centers have already begun soliciting donations and volunteers to ensure that the program will be ready to go when the snow starts to fly.
Center manager for OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Constantia site, Deirdre McCarthy, is coordinating this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s effort and is appreciative of the support the program receives.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Each of our center managers are reaching out to their local communities and are planning on preparing at least 75 Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard Bags.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Thanks to the generous donations we receive from local grocery stores, concerned community members, service groups and our own OCO employees, we are able to ensure that our senior clients will have a nutritious meal on hand in the event that winter weather prevents the home delivery of their meal or if they are unable to visit one of our dining and activity sites,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
McCarthy added that OCO is currently accepting donations of food and paper bags for this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard Bags.’
Food items they are in need of include: oatmeal packets, Ramen noodles/soup packets, cereal bars, small packaged crackers, small packaged cookies, small juice bottles/juice boxes, hot cocoa packets, tea bags and hard candies.
OCO is also accepting donations of pet food so that they can offer Pet Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for their seniors who have pets.
Since each Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is individually prepared, labeled, and comes with a cheery note to help brighten the recipientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s day and explain the purpose of the bag, McCarthy said that there is also a need for community members who would like to volunteer their time and talents to preparing and labeling the bags.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We like to make the Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ colorful and appealing. The seniors appreciate them and truly enjoy reading the personalized notes that we include with each bag,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
For more information on donating items to, or volunteering to assist with OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlizzard BagÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ program, call McCarthy at 623-9803.
Donations may also be dropped off at Oswego County Opportunities, 239 Oneida St.
OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Senior Services Division provides home delivered meals throughout Oswego County and operates Senior Dining and Activity Centers in Constantia, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Oswego, Parish, Phoenix and Pulaski.
Home delivered meals and senior meals sites are funded through Oswego County Office for the Aging.
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966 and touches the lives of more than 20,000 people annually.
OCO is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency.
For more information, visit www.oco.org