WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging (SAAA) needs supplies to help homebound senior citizens cope during the coronavirus emergency.

Donations of shelf-stable foods, paper products such as towels and toilet rolls, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are needed for distribution to elderly clients, said SAAA Executive Director Linda Holtzapple.

Cash donations toward purchasing supplies also are welcome, Holtzapple said.

Donations — more items than money — are coming in to the agency, but the more the better, considering nobody knows how long the emergency will last, she indicated.

Toilet paper and sanitizer especially are needed.

"They're very scarce," Holtzapple said. Among stores and distributors, "supplies are out or very low, and there's a waiting list."

Anyone wanting to donate, or who needs assistance, can call the agency at 540-635-7141 or go online to shenandoahaaa.com for more information. Employees are working remotely as the coronavirus emergency continues. Phone calls are being monitored and returned as quickly as possible.

Based in Front Royal, the SAAA provides services in Winchester and Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Page and Shenandoah counties enabling older people to continue living on their own and be as independent as possible. The agency receives federal, state and local funds, but needs of the elderly and their caregivers exceed its resources, according to its website.

The nonprofit agency is the regional Meals on Wheels provider. Holtzapple estimated it is regularly providing meals to about 500 people throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

During the emergency, meals are being delivered once a week, with recipients being provided enough frozen and shelf-stable meals to last them through the week, Holtzapple said.

Amid clients' fears about the coronavirus spreading, Meals on Wheels will leave deliveries outside a person's home and wait at a safe distance until the person comes to the door and gets them. Volunteers will ask them if they are OK and need anything before proceeding to the next stop, Holtzapple said.

For now, that may be the only physical contact that some clients have with other people.

"A lot of these folks are already lonely," Holtzapple said. The coronavirus emergency, she said, has "just made it a lot worse. They're totally isolated."

She encourages people feeling lonely to call relatives and friends, write letters and/or find something of interest to them to occupy their time.

On a monthly basis, the SAAA provides in-home services, such as assistance with bathing and housekeeping, to about 200 clients and transportation services. It also provides about 100 people essential transportation, such as to nonemergency medical appointments, according to Holtzapple.

To try and not spread germs, drivers are wearing face masks. The SAAA encourages riders to do the same, Holtzapple said.

The agency constantly is monitoring advice from government officials on dealing with the pandemic. As the situation is constantly changing, "we're trying to be a half-day ahead," trying to anticipate clients' needs and available resources to handle them, said Holtzapple.

Overall, though, "we're kind of trying to stay afloat like everyone else," she said.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

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