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Austinite gathers presents for nursing home in hopes of keeping giving spirit alive

A post on Nextdoor stirred up more caring neighbors than Donna Wasieleski expected.

AUSTIN, Texas — It's the perfect time to try and spread the holiday spirit, and that's what one North Austin woman decided she was going to do. After her neighbors joined in, it was more than she ever could have imagined.

It's the time of year when we look to give back, find ways to give to those less fortunate.

"Yeah, you should have seen it when there was still all that stuff here," said Donna Wasieleski. "It's been incredible."

Wasieleski is surrounded by these left-over gifts, after getting all of them for those at a nursing home in her neighborhood, the Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval.

"So I was just hoping to make it a nice Christmas for them," she said. "But what it turned into really was the whole neighborhood. I mean, everybody was just wanting to do something positive and wanting to feel their neighbors were coming together as a community." 

She reached out to her community over the Nextdoor app. 

"This is what I wrote: 'Help you/kids make a Christmas card or small gifts for seniors. Windsor Nursing Home on Duval has 100 seniors who have no family, so no Christmas for them," she read from her post.

Her plea reached hundreds, who over four days brought in everything on the wish lists and more.

"Yeah, it's just amazing. And hearing people be inspired by the people in our community has been really touching too. People just want something positive to be able to do," she said. "I believe probably our whole country is like this, and all people needed was one little spark to light up the whole thing."

Which led us to today, nursing home staff delivering the gifts, door by door. Each resident getting more than they could have ever thought, from people they've never met.

"Yeah, just seeing the video of them delivering the presents, I've been waiting. I was like, 'Please, please, please take pictures of the residents opening their presents, or just the look on their face when they get them," she said. "I hope we can share that out to the community, but just seeing the video of them all dressed as Santa delivering the cart full of presents, I can't imagine the smiles they're going to have today, it's great." 

And with the leftovers in Wasieleski's house? 

"A lot of people have been asking about what can we do year-round, how do we show we care year-round," she explained. "That's the next step is figuring out what we're going to do to show that we care all year long." 

Because maybe it shouldn't just take a time of year to give to those less fortunate.

"It's been amazing. My neighborhood has just been incredible," she said.

If you would like to help them as they continue to give, you can reach Wasieleski at WeCareAustinSeniors@gmail.com.

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