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Valentine’s Day came early for members of the Malibu Senior Center as they were treated to a drive-thru “Go-Go Gift” giveaway Tuesday at Bluffs Park.
For two hours beginning at 10 a.m., staff from the center off Stuart Ranch Road greeted members with air hugs, well-wishes and big smiles before handing off themed goody bags.
It was all done according to pandemic protocols, including face masks, face shields and social distancing.
The idea behind the program, staff member Lisa Crespo told Surfside News, is “to lift their spirits, say hello and give them something nice to look forward to.”
The first such program took place over the holidays and brought out 40 members. “We did a winter-themed oven mitts and hot chocolate giveaway,” said Crespo.
About 60 people were expected to take part in the Valentine’s Day program.
With physical access to the center not allowed because of the pandemic, staff members had been calling members regularly to check on them.
That’s how “Go-Go Gifts” came about.
“We really wanted to do something a little more interactive in a safe way, and we thought doing a holiday-themed pick-me-up was a good starting place,” Crespo said.
Staff member Loren Davis helped hand out the goodies on Tuesday using a contraption resembling a swimming pool net that made for a contactless delivery.
Members of the city Youth Commission contributed to the Valentine’s Day card in each bag, she explained, offering suggestions on candy and flowers perfect for the occasion, along with romantic quotes and even some of their own Valentine’s Day memories.
“Just something sweet from them,” Davis said.
Other items included cork beverage coasters in the shape of a heart, a candle, notepad, chocolates and Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix.
“Sugar cookies are always very good,” Davis said enthusiastically.
Each senior also received a City of Malibu emergency survival guide.
The “greeter” Tuesday was staff member Byanna Edwards, who made sure participants had signed up in advance and offered some kind words.
“How are you doing,” she called out to one woman. “Are you still able to walk around?”
All who took part were excited that someone was thinking of them.
“We really appreciate all this,” said Judy Galvis, who drove with her husband, Tony.
Summing up participant reactions to the programs, Crespo said “appreciation,” “gratitude.”
“The seniors are really happy to just have a reason to get out of the house and do it safely,” she said. “Even if it was far away, they enjoyed saying hello and connecting with us, seeing our faces in person instead of over the phone like we have been doing for the last few months.”