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Long Beach nonprofit to provide household essentials for senior citizens

The Heart of Ida will collect wish list items to help those in need throughout March.

Sarah Amaral, Staff Writer

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Walking your local elders down the street isn’t the only way you can help them anymore.

Heart of Ida, a nonprofit organization in Long Beach, is dedicated to providing everyday necessities to the senior citizen community within the city. Running until March 22, the organization will be collecting wish lists and distributing items to those in need.

The nonprofit was created by sisters Dina Berg and Keri Reich after their grandmother, Ida, routinely took them to visit the senior citizen community as little girls.

“She took us to nursing homes every year to visit and deliver gifts,” Berg said. “I never wanted to leave. Those visits changed my life. It inspired us to start a nonprofit in honor of our grandmother.”

Students and community members are encouraged to donate household or hygienic items for low-income senior citizens who often find toilet paper and soap an expensive commodity.  Essentials the organization is looking for include, but are not limited to:

  • Shampoo, body wash, lotion
  • Shaving cream, soap (dish and body), disposable razors
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Toilet Paper, tissue paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Brushes, combs
  • Blankets, socks
  • Bandages, wipes, urinary pads
  • Washcloths

“We talk to seniors everyday. That’s how we know what people need,” Berg said. “We hope to reach as many seniors as we can.”

When the organization was first created, it was serving roughly 50 citizens in the community.  Now it is helping more than 1,000 and Berg hopes to keep expanding.

“I think one of the most rewarding parts of being involved with [The Heart of Ida] is a blossoming awareness of community and responsibility and seeing that one person can make a difference — a really big difference — to another, just by getting involved,” said Amy Opheim, a volunteer with the organization. “Dina and Keri have inspired me to look around and see where I can lend a helping hand and [have] given me solid evidence that indeed, change begins at home, right here, in Long Beach.”

Along with donations projects, the organization has created programs to help reduce injuries and social isolation for senior citizens.  

“The number one reason older adults lose their independence is due to a fall,” Berg said. “We take fall prevention seriously [and have] brought evidence-based fall prevention programming to Long Beach.”

The organization is constantly reaching out to the community searching for ways to gather food and hygienic products to help alleviate the burden of these senior citizens.  

“Organizations like the Heart of Ida are so important because it allows us to think and act outside of ourselves,” said Thomas Foudy, senior student at Cal State Long Beach. “It’s an easy way to benefit those that can’t help themselves.”

Those who wish to donate can drop their items off at the front desk of the Long Beach Senior Center, located at 1150 E. Fourth St., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Items will be distributed to seniors at the Senior Center March 22, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Think about the people around you,” Berg said. “Many seniors become isolated, so reaching out is important. You can help make their lives a bit easier by donating, volunteering or just asking your neighbor how you can help.”

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