Claremore Veterans Center Christmas 2016

The Christmas season at the Claremore Veterans Center began in earnest on December 1st with holiday decorations being changed over from Thanksgiving to reflect the upcoming holiday. The second week of December saw the beginning of an almost daily visit from local schools and churches to provide carolers to tour the facility entertaining the residents and employees with a variety of Christmas songs, much to the enjoyment of all. Christmas cards began arriving in huge volumes during the 2nd week with residents being overwhelmed with cards of Christmas cheer, some with money enclosed. Several civic organizations joined in the entertainment and provided gifts for residents. Again this year the recreation staff was overwhelmed with the volume of gifts donated for the benefit of the residents. The auditorium, a room about 120 feet long and 50 feet wide, was packed with items donated for the residents. The unit parties and gift distribution occurred on Friday, December 23 with each resident receiving 4 or 5 very nice gifts. The generosity of the local and surrounding communities once again impressed me greatly. It is very comforting to me to see the outpouring of love for veterans who served this nation from 2 years to 30 years, some in war and some in peace, but no distinctions are made because all of them deserve, and receive, the respect and love of grateful citizens. Each of the residents were willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary to preserve the freedom that so many others had fought and/or died to procure/preserve in times past.

It is so touching to see the outpouring from the community towards these heroes who are well beyond their youth. There are many WWII and Korea veterans here, with others from Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Naturally, most are from the earlier conflicts as those are the older ones, ranging in age to a 102 year old WWII nurse. The residents are so appreciative for anything done for them because they are humble people who don’t see themselves as heroes at all but rather see themselves as just another old person. Their humility makes them even more worthy of the attention they receive in my eyes, and in the eyes of many others. The dietary staff is planning a Christmas dinner to rival the one that they served on Thanksgiving Day. I cannot attend the Christmas Day festivities as I will be involved at activities at Cedarpoint Church, which is putting on an Angel Tree event that day. Christmas Day is another day that I wish I could be in two places at once because I would love to be able to participate in both events. I was at the Veterans Center for Thanksgiving so offered to help at church for Christmas. I am starting this on Christmas eve and will report on the events of tomorrow after I hear the story on Monday. I much prefer to report from my own eyewitness view but this year I will have to suffice with the reports of others. I am sure there will be lots of people helping as there was on Thanksgiving. Claremore and the surrounding communities are inhabited by patriots who understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by the residents of the center, and go out of their way to show that love and appreciation.

I am continuing on Monday evening, December 26. Today I asked about volunteers in the dining room for Christmas Day and although I didn’t get a number I was told there were several, plenty to handle the extra load for the holiday meal. That was very gratifying news as it once again shows the quality of the local people in a time of great need. I didn’t find out who put on the bingo games but did hear that there were more than the usual number of blackout jackpots and a lot of money was won by the center residents. Again I received very pleasing reports from both residents and staff. Today the interested residents were treated with pop, popcorn, and a movie in the auditorium after lunch. The movie was “A Very Different Kind of Christmas”, starring Shelley Long of Cheers fame. It is a wonderful movie, very touching and entertaining. Tomorrow the recreation staff is putting on a shuffleboard tournament in the morning and the monthly birthday party, sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), will be held at 2:00 p m. These wonderful ladies put on a birthday party on the last Tuesday of every month that honors each resident who had a birthday that month. The party is open to anyone who wishes to attend, not just those with birthdays that month. The local Wal-Mart donates a beautiful and delicious cake every month with ice cream, drinks, plates, and dinnerware supplied by the Veterans Center dietary department. Members of the recreation staff conduct a “Wheel of Fortune” style game that pays out quarters from one half dollar per correct letter selected to one dollar to the person who solves the puzzle. The ODVA provides $45 in quarters to be awarded to correct responses. I have attended each party for the last year or so and the residents have a good time, enjoy cake and ice cream, and take home at least some money. Everyone who plays will win some money, some more that others depending on their luck or skill in guessing correct letters. Bingo is scheduled for Wednesday and Friday sandwiching Blackjack on Thursday. Christmas week is once again a great week at the Claremore Veterans Center. The entire staff from top to bottom, along with the many civic organizations and private citizens that donate time and/or money, deserve a great deal of appreciation from all of us for the wonderful things they do for our veterans. I know the residents are very appreciative as I have heard their appreciation expressed many times. It is an honor to live in such a high quality community and to be able to associate with so many high quality people and organizations.

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

Bob Russell

Claremore, Oklahoma

December 30, 2016



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Bob Russell

Graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in May, 1968. Enlisted in the U S Army on December 11, 1968, serving 3 years in the 7th Special Forces Group as a Heavy Weapons Expert, attaining the rank of Sgt. E 5. upon separation went to work at Southwestern Bell Telephone on January 17, 1972 and retired on August 31, 2003. Also spent 1 year on active reserve as a member of the 14th Special Forces Group. attaining the rank of Staff Sgt. E6. started and operated a business installing wiring for telephone, data, and video surveillance systems from October 2003 until December 2011. Suffered a debilitating stroke on August 19, 2014. Now recovering and doing volunteer work at the Claremore, Oklahoma Veterans Center. Attends church in Claremore at CedarPoint and LifeChanger churches. Married to wife Marsha since August 2, 1989 with 4 daughters and a deceased son, 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

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