How to Be a Better Philadelphian: Aid the Elderly

Donate Your Leftovers
Really! Aid For Friends provides needy, isolated shut-ins with free daily home-cooked meals. When you join as a cook, you’ll be given aluminum trays, plastic bags and menu sheets. When you can, cook an extra plate or save your leftovers, and store the meal in your freezer. When you’ve got a bunch, drop them off at your nearest Aid For Friends freezer — there are more than 250 in the five-county Philly area. 215-464-2224,

Twilight Wish Foundation
Cass Forkin’s almost-four-year-old foundation — like Make-A-Wish, but for the elderly — has granted 811 wishes to date, from a quadriplegic retired postman who wanted to travel his route one more time to a woman who’d always wanted to ride on a Zamboni.

DO: Volunteer as a wish granter for wishes large (meet a famous athlete, fly in a blimp), and small (get a new coat).

GIVE: Donate on the website, where you can see what’s being wished for and fund (partially or fully) the wishes of your choice. 215-230-8777,

Center in the Park
This is one of the area’s most popular senior centers, offering arts and humanities classes (piano lessons, belly dancing!), trips, and intergenerational programs, like a pen-pal exchange with third-graders from Fulton Elementary School.

DO: Help as an intergenerational program volunteer or fund-raising consultant.

GIVE: $130 provides an 18-week arts or music scholarship for a lower-income senior. 215-848-7722,

Surrey Services
Surrey provides low-cost transportation, home care and activities for older residents in parts of Chester and Delaware counties.

DO: Volunteer to help seniors with errands, transportation, light home repairs, gardening, grocery shopping.

GIVE: $10 provides lunch for two seniors; $50 buys an exercise class for 35 people; $75 pays for three visits from a home health aide. 610-647-6404,

Project HEARTH
The acronym is for “Helping Elderly Adults Remain in Their Homes,” and that’s what this organization does, staving off the day when seniors have to give up the homes they love by sending volunteers to do chores, from changing smoke alarm batteries to trimming tree branches to replacing roofs, that owners can no longer manage alone.

DO: Rake a widow’s leaves with your kids one autumn weekend; get together with friends and do an old man’s spring cleaning; organize a corporate outing to power-wash and paint a needy couple’s home.

GIVE: $25 for cleaning supplies; $100 to buy a new door for HEARTH’s handyman to hang. 610-718-5372.

The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly helps seniors find and navigate services and problem-solve when things go awry. Free telephone and web hotlines CARIE LINE and CARIE onLINE answer everything from housing problems to Medicare concerns.

DO: Become an ombudsperson to help long-term-care residents with complaints.

GIVE: $25 helps seniors take control of their health benefits; $1,000 provides repairs for a senior whose home has been broken into. 215-545-5728,

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly
On Thanksgiving Day 1990, a small group of volunteers delivered holiday meals and flowers to Philadelphia seniors; today, the group continues its holiday outreach, and also makes year-round visits, serving more than 1,000 elderly in the area.

DO: Help with holiday outreach programs, like on December 22nd, when the Friends will deliver more than 350 holiday baskets to lonesome senior citizens. (Or join the year-round support program.)

GIVE: $200 will sponsor social activities and gatherings; $1,000 will support holiday outreach and visiting; $2,500 will help identify and provide for those in need of services. Or give the items on the holiday and birthday wish list, found on the website. 215-765-8118,

ElderNet provides free practical assistance for seniors in the Lower Merion and Narberth area so they can live in their own homes for as long as possible.

DO: Volunteer to help seniors with transportation to medical appointments (there’s a critical need for daytime drivers), shopping for groceries, running errands, getting odd jobs done and more.

GIVE: Donate to the ESSLM (Emergency Shelter Services of Lower Merion) fund, which directly pays for emergency housing and medical needs for low-income seniors. 610-525-0706,

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
Since 1973, PCA has served as Philadelphia’s agency on aging, distributing state and federal funds to more than 100 different community organizations serving the elderly. PCA also administers an emergency fund for older adults in crisis situations, as well as Philly Meals on Wheels.

DO: Volunteer to profice companionship for homebound adults.

GIVE: Donate online to the Emergency Fund or Philly Meals on Wheels at $30 provides 10 meals; $300 buys 100 gallons of oil in a heating emergency. 215-765-9000,

Mid County Senior Services
Mid County works in partnership with Main Line Health to provide senior community centers, adult daycare, chore services and more for seniors in Delaware County and on the Main Line.

DO: Volunteer to be a part of the “Chore Connection” and clean gutters, paint a room, shop for groceries, and other tasks that help lower-income seniors live at home.

GIVE: $25 helps provide health and wellness education; $75 provides a day of rest for a caregiver; $100 helps support monthly music and arts programs. 610-353-6642,