By Sue Botos
Marge Gerard may have moved to the Normandy Retirement Community, but she has not retired from her commitment to helping others. The Rocky River resident cooked up a fundraising drive at the Normandy, which will allowed several needy families in the city to have Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.
According to activities assistant Hallie Mannino, Gerard is modest and shuns the spotlight, but she was the one who encouraged other residents to make donations toward the meals. That amount was then matched by the Normandy for a total of $1,350.
“People would sit around at dinner and joke around about ideas,” said Mannino. “Marge said she wanted to put the ideas into action. She’s a busy lady and was itching to do something; she’s constantly thinking.”
Mannino continued that after dinner one night, the group of friends decided to donate the funds for the dinners. “The next day, she tracked me down and told me about her idea. Then I went to the administrator and it took off from there,” she said.
Mannino said a donation box was placed in the community center and notes were posted on doors and in the community newsletter.
Gerard, who has lived at the Normandy for only about one year, then went to work finding those who needed help. She was eventually referred to five families by an acquaintance at St. Christopher Catholic Church, and then approached another connection at Heinen’s to supply the meals.
“That was where she shopped and she was in cahoots with one of the workers,” explained Mannino, adding, “She definitely did a lot of work on this. Marge has been doing this her whole life.”
Mannino also praised the Normandy residents for their support of the cause. “I was surprised. The residents were so extremely generous,” she said, adding that people were especially kind during crunch time, contributing much of the funding during the last week of the drive, which lasted one month. “I was beside myself when they all pulled together,” she said.
Originally, the fundraisers had only planned on enough dollars to feed two or three families. “We were not expecting such a plethora of money. We only thought two or three families could be served,” said Mannino. She added that there would be about $600 left over, which will be donated to the Rocky River Assistance Program.
The meals included all of the traditional holiday favorites including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, desert, and other goodies enjoyed by all ages. “It will be enough to feed 10, but most of the families have four to five people, so they will have plenty of leftovers,” Mannino said.
Meals will be delivered by Normandy staff on Thanksgiving Day.
Not one to bask in success, Gerard says she is on the hunt for her next project, possibly with a Christmas theme.