Woman creates gift bags for Centre Crest employees

PHOTO PROVIDED Maureen Casey poses with some of the gift bags she assembled to make Centre Crest employees’ holiday a bit brighter.

BELLEFONTE — With COVID-19 hitting Bellefonte’s Centre Crest extremely hard, Centre County resident Maureen Casey wanted to make a difference fore the long-term care facility’s employees this holiday season.

Mission accomplished.

Casey recently put together 265 gift bags for Centre Crest employees. Casey, who is a member of a Facebook group called “Mask Strong Centre County,” said she just happened to make a comment on the page one day. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I suggested that maybe we should do something for the workers at Centre Crest because of how bad the situation was there,” Casey said. “It kind of took off after that and we shared the link publicly. We raised about $4,300 and Pleasant Gap American Legion Auxiliary gave us another $500.”

With the funds, Casey was able to use the money to buy $10 gift cards from Weis, locally made hand lotion and lip balm designed for healthcare workers by “Still Not A Hippie.” She was also able to purchase coffee, tea, key chains and pens for the workers. Through word-of-mouth, Casey was able to get donations from Pizza Mia (free breadstick coupons), Nature’s Reward (CBD salve samples) and discounted items from Uptown Cheapskate (soaps, bath bombs and $10 gift certificates).

Casey noted that another member of the group, Jackie Lageman Borst, organized a card drive so every employee received a handwritten card.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of support,” Casey said. “The donations were coming in from businesses, from residents … everyone just wanted to help.”

The original goal was $3,600. Casey thought that might be difficult to reach. It wasn’t.

Centre Crest employees have had a difficult road to hoe this year. At one point, the long-term care facility had 88 percent of its residents infected.

“They’re taking care of our families. It shows them that the county really appreciates what they do every day,” Casey said.

Once she gathered the items for the gift bags, it was time to assemble. Under normal circumstances, Casey would have recruited friends to help with assembly. However, these are not normal circumstances.

“Because of social distancing, I had to do it all myself. This isn’t something you can do virtually,” Casey said.

With the bags assembled, Casey said she hopes to make the drop-off sometime this week so Centre Crest employees will have them in time for Christmas.

“I can’t imagine what (the workers) go through,” Casey said. “We just wanted to thank them and this came together really well.”


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