AARP Wisconsin: Sauk County ARDC proposal to deliver Christmas comfort gifts to Meals on Wheels clients wins AARP WI grant

Contact: Jim Flaherty, Communications Director
Office 608/ 286-6308 – Cell 608/ 698-0928, [email protected]

BARABOO, WI – A proposal by the Sauk County Aging & Disability Resource Center to brighten the spirits of their Meals on Wheels clients by providing each of them with a Christmas comfort gift this December has been selected to receive an AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.

Grants are being awarded each month throughout 2021 to projects across Wisconsin that are designed to improve communities and make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges selected this project for a $1,000 grant after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over the state.

“This project fits perfectly with the spirit and intent of the Small Dollar, Big Impact grant program,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. “Our goal is to support communities as they make positive changes that inspire long-term progress on livable issues. This proposal hits that nail right on the head.”

Marina Wittmann, Aging Program Coordinator for the Sauk County ADRC, said she and the rest of the staff and volunteers are “really excited to receive the grant” so they can begin the process of brainstorming some ideas for the gift bags that will be delivered to all 250 of their Meals on Wheels clients – probably a week or so before Christmas.

“The best part will be seeing the clients’ faces when we make the deliveries,” she said. “This shows we care about them more than just by delivering meals to them. This will bring a little joy to their lives this year.”

Winter can be a difficult time for older adults in Wisconsin, Wittmann explained.

“There may be long stretches where they cannot get out to visit their friends and family, due to cold and snowy conditions. Family and friends may also find it difficult to visit the older adult during the cold months. Additionally, holidays can put more emotional stress on older adults, especially those who are lonely and isolated,” she said.

That’s why the ADRC came up with the idea of creating Christmas comfort gifts, which could include items like cookies, candy, or even small plants. Once the gifts are purchased and assembled, each of the 40 to 45 Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers will personally deliver them to clients’ homes along with their meals. For many of these people, “this may be the only gift under their Christmas tree,” Wittmann said.

The $1,000 probably won’t cover the entire cost of the gifts, although it is a good start. The ADRC will look at other grant opportunities and hope from some contributions from the public to cover the remainder. “Any additional donations would be a bonus,” she said.

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its second year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state.

“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost solutions that could have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighborhoods and cities,” said Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach for AARP Wisconsin.
“There are so many great ideas and proposals for making life better in communities across Wisconsin. We know how impactful $1,000 can be. This is our way of extending some seed money to get these projects off the ground.”

The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. For more
information on the program, visit