After serving patients at nursing homes throughout New York for some 14 years, podiatrist Samuel Carr made a decision.
“The nursing homes are doing the best they can with the money they have, but there are some things they can’t provide, like clothing,” said the Teaneck resident.
As a result, last year Carr – with the help of the local Jewish community and the assistance of his sons David, 13, and Danny, 9 – began to collect and distribute items for people living in nursing homes.
|Sam Carr is collecting clothes and TVs for nursing home residents.|
“I saw firsthand the difference a new shirt can make in someone’s life,” he said. Over the years, he added, he has brought to nursing homes some items of personal clothing – “old stuff, shirts, sweaters” – and has been “overwhelmed” by the gratitude he received.
While many patients have families that can provide such items, he said, some don’t. Pointing out that Judaism stresses a person’s relationship both with God and with other people, Carr said, “We have to emphasize both. I was brought up to do both and I’ve gotten my sons involved in this to let them see the importance of doing chesed.”
In addition, said Carr, “Whenever donations are made, people realize they are coming from the Jewish community of the area. It’s a kiddush HaShem. It shows the good work the Jewish community is doing.”
The greatest need, said Carr, is for clothing and televisions, items that people who subsist on the $55 they receive from Social Security cannot afford.
“You’d be surprised,” he said, adding that he sees both Jews and non-Jews who lack these items. “There are many more people in these conditions than you would expect.”
Nursing homes are not terrible places, he said, but activities tend to be limited. For people who are wheelchair-bound, “television helps them get through the day.”
Traditionally, he said, people thought of nursing homes as places where “bubbie and zaydie went when they got really old or really sick.” Now, he said, he has seen a “surprising number” of people there in their 40s.
“It’s bad enough that these people have health problems,” he said, “but to also have economic problems where just having a new shirt makes such a big difference” is truly heart-wrenching.
He pointed out, as well, that those who are healthy of mind but wheelchair-bound may be surrounded by others with dementia or other conditions who are making a good deal of noise. In that case, he said, a television might be particularly welcome.
“It makes a big difference in their lives,” he said.
So far, he has collected “bags and bags” of clothing and some 30 televisions as a result of notices placed on TeaneckShuls.
But he has found, he said, that the televisions present something of a logistical problem.
“They’re very heavy and hard to transport,” he said, noting that most nursing homes do not have vans and that he and his sons have difficulty collecting and transporting these items.
“I didn’t realize this would happen,” he said. “I could really use someone with a van who would be willing to devote a few hours every three weeks or every month” to help out. He noted as well that as his collection efforts continue, he hopes to provide items to local nursing homes and will ultimately need some local volunteers to help collect these goods.
“It would be a big mitzvah,” he said.
Carr said that nursing homes are extremely grateful for the donated items, which they distribute to their residents, “and have asked that they keep coming. Plenty of people are thrilled with a new shirt.”
“You don’t have to wonder where your clothing goes,” he said. “It’s going to great use and I’m seeing it firsthand. Sometimes these donations make all the difference in the world.”
To contribute clothing, televisions, or other appropriate items – or to volunteer your van or time – e-mail Carr at email@example.com.