Community rallies to make seniors’ spirits bright

Cedar Rapids police deliver gifts at Heritage

(CEDAR RAPIDS, December 2020) Celebrating the holiday season looks much different than past years. However one thing remains the same – the holiday spirit. This was made evident to the residents and staff at Heritage Specialty Care in large part due to the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Linn County Attorney’s Office.

“We usually do some kind of outreach activity for the holiday,” said Crime Prevention and Community Outreach Officer Shannon Sampson. “We often help with children or families in need.”  So this year, based on a suggestion from a coworker, the department decided to “adopt” a care facility in addition.”

Officer Sampson said she got in touch with Marcia Hughes at Heritage and she put Sampson in touch with Heritage Specialty Care Activity Director Mannyane Muzo. “I talked with Mannyane and told her we’d like to buy gifts for the residents for Christmas, and asked if she could get a list of one or two things each resident might like,” Sampson said. “Initially, I didn’t know how many residents they had.”

Mannyane said she was thrilled to receive the request and quickly enlisted Jamie (lastname??) in the dietary department to help. “He helps residents fill out menus so he was able to meet with each resident to find out what they might like as a gift,” Muzo said. “And if the resident was unable to articulate their desires, he talked to the nurses and CNAs to get some ideas.”

Once the list had been completed it was shared with Sampson and she made 93 paper ornaments with items listed on each and invited her fellow coworkers to participate. “Our staff is just wonderful and so generous and they really enjoyed the shopping…each one of us has had a grandparent so we all have a soft-spot for seniors,” Sampson said. “Then the Linn County Attorney’s Office heard what we were doing and asked if they could participate.”

“Some asked for fleece blankets or sweatpants, and some just wanted smaller items like a certain kind of pop or Little Debbie’s,” Sampson said.

When all the paper ornaments had been taken and the gifts had been wrapped, a few of Cedar Rapids’ finest delivered the packages to Heritage Specialty Care’s parking lot on Wednesday morning.

“We are so grateful the Cedar Rapids Police Department could make this happen,” Muzo said.

“This has been a tough year for everybody,” Sampson said. “But then you look at the residents in care centers and how tough they have it…we just wanted to bring a small dose of cheer.”

Muzo goes on to say that the residents and staff at Heritage Specialty Care have been recipients of kindness from other organizations, businesses and schools in the area and wanted to thank the following: bagels and gift bags from Westdale Veridian Bank; presents and holiday cards from Prairie School Staff; independent activity materials from the Prairie School football team; presents for residents without families from St. Jude’s Catholic Church; holiday cards and treat from Care Initiatives Hospice; holiday cards from LaSalle Middle School; cards from Reliant Rehabilitation; donuts from Hy-Vee; and quilts from Dorothy Klees.

Heritage Specialty Care is a 201-bed skilled nursing facility offering rehabilitation services, skilled nursing care, long term care, hospice care and secure memory care unit. Heritage Specialty Care is owned and operated by West Des Moines-based Care Initiatives, Iowa’s largest not-for-profit skilled nursing care and senior care provider.  Care Initiatives and Care Initiatives Hospice operate 58 skilled nursing, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s/dementia, assisted living and hospice locations throughout Iowa. For more information about Care Initiatives or Heritage Specialty Care, visit or call 319.396.7171.