NEWINGTON - Patients of Bel-Air Manor awoke to a startling surprise Monday morning.
Santa Claus found his way down the chimney of the nursing and rehabilitation home, bringing hundreds of gifts. The lounge was alive with Christmas carols and sparkling decorations, alongside lots of new smiling faces from the local community.
Ferrari’s Appliance Store on New Britain Avenue collaborated with several other Newington businesses to make the holiday season a special one for residents of the nursing home down the road.
Store founder Stacey Ferrari and manager Ray Rodriguez received gift requests from Bel-Air, then spent the last month-and-a-half collecting donations to purchase the gifts. Just last week they went shopping and got together to wrap and pack up presents.
On delivery day Monday, recreation director Martha Sanchez, aide Fernanda Jacobs and administrator Marianne Herold gathered patients together for the gift-giving celebration.
“We have volunteers come in once in a while but never to this extent,” Herold pointed out. “This is awesome.”
Ferrari’s FUNDrive partners were Karma’s Closet Consignment Boutique, Savers, The Chapel, ServPro and DJ Brian Skibo. The group was joined by Newington Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gail Whitney, Newington Mayor Roy Zartarian and State Rep. Gary Byron, R-Newington, on Monday.
“Is that the mayor?” resident Madeline Marcoux whispered to a friend.
“I think so,” she answered.
Marcoux’s eyes lit up when a red and silver-wrapped package was placed in her hands.
She carefully ripped it open, revealing a long, pink floral nightgown.
“It’s nice,” the 98-year-old said. “I’m definitely going to have to hem it.”
Marcoux was thrilled with the gift and with the gathering.
“This is an absolutely magnificent party,” she exclaimed. “They’re remembering all of us. I have so much to be thankful for.”
“This is not something you see every day,” Byron said, adding that the staff at Ferrari’s had always been very gracious. “Ray and Stacey are both very giving people and active in our community.”
“I think it’s a wonderful gesture on part of the businesses in town,” Zartarian said.
Volunteers had also set up a table of children’s toys and books so patients could pick out gifts for their grandchildren. Most are unable to get out shopping themselves, so the gesture also served a practical cause.
Grace Palmer, president of the Resident Council, was smiling from ear-to-ear.
“We’re very happy,” she said. “This place is wonderful.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.