“Zynergy Cares is the charitable arm of Zynergy Retirement Planning. We are a retirement planning firm here in Red Bank and through Zynergy Cares, we donate two percent of our revenue and hundreds of volunteer hours back to the community,” Ryan Zacharczyk, the chairman of the board of Zynergy Cares, said.
Overall, 12 residents from Chelsea Senior Living, also known as The Chelsea, worked on the blankets over a period of 10 months. The residents completed a total of 60 blankets by Dec. 4, according to Senior Lifestyle Director at Chelsea Senior Living Carol Kenzel.
All of the blankets were donated to Zynergy Cares’ Operation Prep and Landing program, according to Kenzel.
On Dec. 11, five volunteers from Operation Prep and Landing came with five of their children and grandchildren to pick up the blankets at the senior living facility, which is located at 1 Hartford Drive in Tinton Falls, according to Kenzel.
“While here, they sang Christmas carols to our residents and gave out homemade Christmas cookies,” Kenzel said.
All of the volunteers were also dressed in holiday attire with Santa hats, according to Kenzel.
Operation Prep and Landing is one of the organization’s initiatives that was started several years ago, according to Zacharczyk.
“We go into the children’s wing of local hospitals to decorate and prepare their hospital rooms for Santa’s arrival, with particular focus on those children who will be overnight in the hospital on Christmas Eve. We decorate the room to make it festive, including a Christmas tree, and provide the kids with milk and cookies and a stocking for Santa’s arrival,” Zacharczyk said. “This year, with the help of The Chelsea, we added handmade blankets to our list of goodies for the kids.”
Operation Prep and Landing is run by Dennis Flanagan and Lauren Kelly, two of Zynergy Cares’ board members, according to Zacharczyk said.
“After the residents completed all the blankets, our Lifestyle staff ironed on labels that were provided by Operation Prep and Landing. The labels said, ‘A gift from Operation Prep and Landing through Zynergy Cares,’ and included a spot for the name of the resident who actually made each blanket,” Kenzel said.
Originally, the residents had been making fleece blankets for Project Linus, a non-profit organization that provides homemade blankets for children in need. However, their drop-off location near the facility moved, so residents did not know where to donate their blankets, according to Kenzel.
“One day, the daughter-in-law of one of our residents, a volunteer with Operation Prep and Landing, saw us making the blankets and told us about the Operation Prep and Landing program. She thought the blankets would be a great addition to the gifts they provide to hospitalized children during the holidays,” Kenzel said. “So, she spoke to the volunteers at Zynergy Cares, and they agreed it would make a great gift for the children.”
In July, the volunteers from Operation Prep and Landing visited the facility’s blanket makers and explained the Operation Prep and Landing program to them and donated funds for the facility to buy more fleece for the blankets, according to Kenzel.
“The Chelsea was a perfect fit for us. For several years, we have wanted to give the children handmade warm blankets of their own as part of our project. The cost was less of an issue than the labor involved in making the blankets,” Zacharczyk said.
One of the organization’s board members found out The Chelsea had a sewing club that was looking for this type of charitable work, according to Zacharczyk.
“We subsidized most of the cost of the material for the blankets in exchange for their labor. The women of The Chelsea did a fantastic job, and we could not have been happier with the results,” Zacharczyk said.
According to Kenzel, the residents of The Chelsea have made fleece blankets in the past for Project Linus and also made fleece scarves that were sold, with proceeds being donated to Alzheimer’s New Jersey.
“This is the largest, most heartwarming community project we’ve ever done, and I am very proud of our residents,” Kenzel said in a prepared statement from the facility.
Last winter, they made fleece scarves for a homeless shelter in Newark. In the past, the residents would also knit and crochet hats and scarves to be placed on a giving tree during the holidays. Those hats and scarves were then donated to local charities and churches, according to Kenzel.
“We were so happy with our collaboration with The Chelsea. I feel like it was a win-win project all around. Their club was able to have a project of good work for the community as a part of the sewing they were already doing,” Zacharczyk said. “We helped with the costs of the club’s materials, and in return, we got 60 beautiful blankets for children in the hospital this holiday season. It was the best of all worlds, and we only hope that The Chelsea would be willing to collaborate with us again next year.”
For more information about Chelsea Senior Living, visit www.chelseaseniorliving.com/new-jersey-senior-care-locations/tinton-falls-nj/.
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.