The greatest gifts are given without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day is reward enough.
That’s a lesson inspired by Twana Green’s grandmother, Lillie Lawson. And it’s the motivation behind the Alexandria Senior Angel Tree, which provides Christmas gifts to nursing home residents who are alone during the holidays.
“My grandmother has been my rock for my entire life,” says Green. Now, it’s Green who cares for the blind 98-year-old. “I can’t imagine her being alone, especially at the holidays,” says Green, who helps make sure others also receive some holiday cheer.
For Green, the DTC team helped make it all happen.
Raised in McMinnville, Green and her husband, Jonathan, appreciate family. They have two children and four grandchildren, and they enjoy hiking, fishing and four-wheeling.
She joined DTC as a part-time employee in 2006 at the Alexandria office, advancing to customer service representative in DTC’s wireless division. After two years at the Smithville location, she returned to Alexandria to fill a team leader position in 2010.
“As a part of Leadership DeKalb, each member proposed a community-based project that we’d like to do,” Green says. “It was a great opportunity to try and make a difference. My project was selected out of 10 projects submitted.” She selected a cause that is close to her heart — seniors in need of holiday cheer. Three of the 10 projects were selected that year — including Green’s. Then, the team brought the first Angel Tree to life.
It started with a visit to the National HealthCare nursing home in Smithville. “We went and spoke with the officials, asking about any of the people who didn’t have any family,” Green says.
Then, NHC staffers help by recommending gifts for each resident, then assigning a corresponding number.
The resulting anonymous wish lists are hung from Christmas trees awaiting generous holiday shoppers.
That first year, Green placed a Christmas tree at a local retailer, but it didn’t stop there. Green and another fellow team leader, Kiki Brown, chose to continue the Senior Angel Tree.
Last year, the colorful duo of Green and Brown — coincidently the colors of a Christmas tree — helped nearly 100 seniors. With the holiday season about to begin, watch for the trees to soon appear.
The tree location changed in 2011 to the DeKalb County Florist, owned by Sissy Ray. Green also decided to add a few locations for convenience, with the salons of Rhonda Moore’s Creative Styles and JJ Poss’ Headlines joining the cause.
“They’ve all been wonderful about being a part of this and have helped make this a great success,” Green says.
For the organizers and volunteers, the experience is heartwarming and often tearful. “We sat and watched one woman open up the gift of a doll,” Green says. “The look on her face said it all. I think nearly all of us were in tears that day.”