Members of The Front Porch, an early memory loss program at the Modern Maturity Center, each week engage in activities that not only keep their minds active but also build camaraderie with one another. On Friday, Front Porch patrons, flanked by volunteers, formed an assembly line of sorts to pack shoeboxes full of goods that will bring some Christmas joy to children around the world.


Members of The Front Porch, an early memory loss program at the Modern Maturity Center, each week engage in activities that not only keep their minds active but also build camaraderie with one another.

The Front Porch focuses on helping its members maintain and enhance memory and cognitive functioning in the face of early Alzheimer’s disease and other early, memory-related disorders.

On Friday, Front Porch patrons, flanked by volunteers, formed an assembly line of sorts to pack shoeboxes full of goods that will bring some Christmas joy to children around the world. The Front Porch is participating in “Operation Christmas Child,” which is part of the Franklin Graham mission called Samaritan's Purse.

The shoeboxes contain toiletries, school supplies, clothing, toys and candy, Front Porch Facilitator Bobbie Braksator said.

Using the www.samaritanspurse.org website, Braksator can follow the box up to when the child receives it.

“These kids have nothing,” Braksator said. “Think of the most desperate situations – Africa, Siberia.”

Throughout the year, The Front Porch has been helping Freewill Baptist Church in Odessa, Del. to make school packets to act as fillers for Shoe Boxes, she said.

Front Porch’s 17 members and 10 volunteers have enjoyed the project.

“I’ve done it for years; I did it with my church in Virginia,” Front Porch member Polly Campbell said. “But I’m staying with my daughter now [in Dover].”

Campbell described The Front Porch in general as a melting pot that provides an outlet for people coping with similar issues.

“It’s an organization where people get together and enjoy one another,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

“I’ve enjoyed all these members that are very nice people – every one of them,” said volunteer and Dover resident Dottie Tarbutton, whose husband died of Alzheimer’s.

Andy Gray of Smyrna, another Front Porch member, put together his shoebox with help from Jordana Naftzinger, the marketing director at Genesis HealthCare.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Gray said. “I primarily enjoy the company because I live by myself in Bon Ayre Senior Development.”

Naftzinger, based at Heritage at Dover, volunteers at the Modern Maturity Center every Friday in an effort to build relationships within the community – including helping pack shoeboxes for children.

“For these seniors, I think it’s very important to stay connected to the community and give back just to improve their quality of life,” she said. “It just is an opportunity to give love to the rest of the world.”

Now that they are packed, the shoeboxes will make their way to the packaging center in North Carolina where they will be inspected and shipped, Braksator said.

For more information, see www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.