St. Thomas church delivers gifts to area nursing homes

OLD BRIDGE — It has been a longstanding practice of St. Thomas the Apostol Church in Old Bridge to hold a seasonal drive for the region’s elderly, this year collecting more than 500 gifts that it divvied out among four area nursing homes.

“It’s a pretty big undertaking,” said Justine Durstewitz, who coordinates the churches’ communications. “Part of the church’s mission is for the lonely and forgotten. There are people at the nursing homes who no one visits and they don’t get any presents for Christmas. This is our way of giving back to them.”

Durstewitz noted that the giving has been a gift in and of itself, with many of the younger parishioners partaking in the yearly collection.

“Our religious education program spearheads it,” she said, offering full credit to program Director Debbie Yesis. “In a way, it’s actually from the children.”

The cheer was difficult to contain on Dec. 23 and 24, as the staff at the Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge hand-delivered St. Thomas’ bags, boxes and goodies to some 135 residents.

“As a public nursing home, we open our doors to some of the most vulnerable residents,” said Roosevelt Care Center at Old Bridge Administrator Alan Fialka. “There are times we find that our residents have no family or nearby friends to speak of. This generous gesture from St. Thomas’ gave many of those residents something to smile about this year.”