Editorial: And now for the seniors

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Thanks to the amazing generosity of hundreds of people and the couple who hosted them, the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County ran into a windfall Tuesday night.

We're hoping that friendly breeze blows in the other direction, too.

Tuesday's bash at the home of Duane and Lola Hagadone will go down in local history as the biggest single-event fundraiser yet. The 2007 Festival of Trees fundraiser for Kootenai Health netted $422,962, and that was for all the festival activities combined. In one night, the Boys & Girls Club netted $501,000 - every penny raised goes to the club because the Hagadones donated everything. That stunning total in this wobbly economy is testament to the fact that there is no more worthy cause than creating a safe place for our children to engage in healthy physical, mental and cultural activities, and no better time to do it than right now.

But the need is also great around Kootenai County for similar support of our aging citizens. Our region has been blessed with senior centers that provide thousands of inexpensive or free meals to elderly citizens in need. They also are gathering places where one of the great enemies of aging citizens - loneliness - has no place at the table.

We can't overemphasize the need that many of these people face every day but are too proud to express. Pay attention next time you're in the grocery store, and notice what they're buying. You'll often see little or no produce or healthy but expensive goods in their grocery baskets. That's because they're spending what little money they have on rent, on utilities and on medicine. According to AARP, some 8 million seniors go hungry every single day. This is America; how is that possible?

"We're seeing more and more seniors come to lunch and yet some of them are unable to pay our suggested donation," said Alison McArthur, executive director of Post Falls Senior Center. Other senior centers in the region report the same sad facts.

McArthur said what's most needed are donations of cash and in-kind items. Also needed are volunteer drivers to deliver meals to shut-ins.

"These people are former teachers, store clerks, linemen, cops and more, but with the way the economy is these days, they're suffering more," McArthur said.

We're asking today for your help. Societies are judged on the way they treat their youngest and oldest citizens. Please, call any of these senior centers today and see what you can do to make life a little better for someone who richly deserves your help.

Post Falls Senior Center, 773-9582

Lake City Center, 667-4628

Rathdrum Senior Citizen Center, 687-2028

Spirit Lake Community Senior Center, 62

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