Thrive by IU Health

December 15, 2023

Bringing the jolly to the holiday

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Bringing the jolly to the holiday

On Oct. 9, 2016, Margie Clouse, RN, posted a Facebook message calling for her community to join in making the holidays more joyful for nursing home residents.

“Christmas time isn’t happy for everybody; it gets sad for some people,” says the IU Health South Central Region Forensic Clinical program manager. “It came to my heart that I needed to adopt a grandparent.”

She had a tradition of visiting a local nursing home with her daughter and saw many people who didn’t get a lot of visitors. Whether it’s work, personal and family obligations or even physical distance, many loved ones may inadvertently find themselves visiting less and less as time goes by.

“I don’t think it’s intentional, but we all get busy with our lives, and we tend to forget that people living in these facilities have nowhere to go,” says Clouse.

The idea of adopting one grandparent grew into Clouse partnering with a local nursing facility to ensure all the elderly residents had a jolly holiday season. Operation “Adopt a Grandparent” was born.

“That first year was the most amazing thing because they were so surprised and excited that somebody actually cared about them and thought about them at the holidays,” she says. That’s when she decided to make it an annual project.

As of December 2023, it’s grown to encompass 160 grandparents at two nursing facilities and up to 40 children at a pediatric care facility for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. And while Clouse doesn’t have precise numbers for how many people are involved in making it happen, at least 100 community members help in some fashion.

Grandparent adoption prep and delivery

From donating funds for purchasing goodies to setting up festive gift baskets, operation “Adopt a Grandparent” is made possible through a community dedicated to helping others.

Delivery day is extra special with Mr. and Mrs. Claus joining Clouse and her team to bring presents, holiday cheer, cookies and time to visit with the excited residents.

“A lot of times, we’ll bring in kids to help deliver the gifts, and we’ve even had one of our nurses’ daughters play the violin for them,” says Clouse. “We try to make it as fun as we can and let them know they are loved and remembered.”

Operation “Adopt a Grandparent” is all set for this holiday season, but Clouse encourages fellow community members to set aside time throughout the year to volunteer at their local nursing homes and help make sure nobody feels forgotten.