After taking a brief hiatus in 2020, the Dining Dollars Campaign, which raises money for the programs at the Jones County Senior Center, is returning for 2021.

Last year, the center was able to get support from Heritage Area Agency on Aging with the purchase of emergency supplies as well as some grants to help cover their operating costs.

After having the sites closed throughout most of 2020 and into 2021, the sites have slowly begun to reopen. Anamosa resumed for Monday through Friday noon meals July 6, Wyoming opened July 21 and the Monticello site is slated to open Dec. 1.

While not open, the center was limited in hours and limited to delivering frozen meals while trying to do their best to keep their clients safe and healthy.

“We didn’t know if we could be carrying something,” Senior Dining Director Lisa Tallman said.

The impacts of the pandemic can still be felt with issues in the supply chain that limits the center’s ability to get some of their usual options, but since reopening, the center has seen a confirmation of how important it’s been for them to be able to get back. That includes not only the ability to deliver hot meals like they have in the past, but also the opportunity they provide for seniors to socialize. More than just a meal, the dining centers make it possible to meet friends, play cards, put together a puzzle, watch a movie, listen to music, make crafts and enjoy many other activities.

“They missed it really, really bad,” Tallman said of the social opportunities the center provides. “Everybody was thrilled to be back in the dining room. Everybody’s thrilled to be getting hot meals again.”

In addition to helping fund the operations, donations could help the center make needed updates to the interior of the building, which would have to come out of their budget. Tallman said she’d like to have the ability to update the wainscoting or update the dated blinds in the building, which have been there at least the last 16 years Tallman has been in the position.

With the holidays approaching, the center is looking to be able to do some special holiday programming. The usual holiday dinner will be held Dec. 15, but the center is still looking for any other acts that might be able and willing to provide some music during lunch.

“I’d love more entertainment. I would love for anyone to reach out and come if they want to play something for us at the holidays,” Tallman said.

Each year, the Journal-Eureka sponsors the Dining Dollars Campaign, which supports the wonderful programs of Jones County Senior Dining. Through the campaign, readers make monetary donations to support the program. Dining Dollar donations are tax deductible, and any gift amount is valued. Donations provide much needed support across the county to Senior Dining. Donations may be made anonymously or in memory of a loved one. Checks may be made to Jones County Senior Dining Center and mailed to Journal-Eureka, 405 E. Main St., Ste D, Anamosa, IA 52205.

In addition to monetary donations, the Journal-Eureka is also serving as a drop off point for gifts for homebound seniors. Needed items include blankets, socks with tread, games, puzzles, coloring materials, single-serving snacks or shelf-stable entrees and easy crafts or kits. Donations are accepted through Dec. 10 and will be delivered ahead of Christmas.

Each year, Tallman is blown away by the response she gets, particularly around the holidays. She’s already had some inquiries about helping out, including from someone looking to donate from Colorado whose mother had been a past client.

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