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UNION GROVE — One of the greatest moments of Monica Grisé’s holiday tradition came last year, when a woman living at Oak Ridge Care Center leaned over to her friend and said “You see? I told you they wouldn’t forget about us.”

Seven years ago, a longtime family friend of Grisés, Marian Klug, died. Klug had spent her last years living at the Oak Ridge rehabilitation/assisted living center, 1400 Eighth Ave., Union Grove, and whenever Grisé visited Klug, she noticed that a number of residents rarely if ever were visited by friends or relatives.

Grisé wanted to make sure that nobody would ever feel ignored.

“We are always looking for ways to help people,” Grisé said. “A lot of people forget about the grandparents.”

A tradition of collecting

Six years ago, Grisé started a collection of little luxuries — nail polish, lotion, shaving cream, aftershave, stationery, socks, hats, mittens, etc. — that she would be able to give out at Christmastime every year to Oak Ridge residents. It was easy to enlist Klug’s descendants, from children down to great-grandchildren, to help in the effort.

On Friday night, 100 packages worth about $13 each were given out by Grisé’s and Klug’s family and friends to residents of the home.

“It’s the largest year yet,” Grisé said.

Most of the donations came from friends, family and individuals. Grisé said that one donation came from a woman she had never met. That woman told Grisé that she wanted to buy seven gifts in honor of seven aides “who had been angels” for a relative who had been cared for at Oak Ridge.

The Union Grove Lions Club and Kiwanis Club of Union Grove, both represented Friday night by Jim McCormick, made monetary donations as well.

“I became aware of what Monica was doing,” McCormick said, “and contacted both clubs. They both are interested in helping people in our community … and each made a nice donation.”

Grisé said that 100 percent of all donations go directly toward buying gifts for Oak Ridge residents.

Family connection

Grisé got to know Klug through her father. Grisé’s grandmother, her dad’s mom, died when her son was only 19 years old.

“Marian became his second mother,” Grisé explained, and Klug’s sons became like brothers to Grisé’s dad.

Bill Klug, one of Marian’s sons, brought his children and grandchildren along Friday night to hand out gifts.

“We just felt it was the right thing to do,” Bill said.

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Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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