Donations brighten season for Royal Suites residents

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Getting ready for Christmas at Royal Suites are, from left, Mary Conlin, Director of Therapeutic Recreation Alicia Scaglione, Fred Hughes and Elizabeth Bargallo. Getting ready for Christmas at Royal Suites are, from left, Mary Conlin, Director of Therapeutic Recreation Alicia Scaglione, Fred Hughes and Elizabeth Bargallo.

GALLOWAY – Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation is conducting its sixth annual Adopt-a-Resident program – where community members anonymously provide gifts to brighten the season for residents.

“We would be most appreciative if staff, area businesses and community members adopt a resident for the holidays,” Director of Therapeutic Recreation Alicia Scaglione said Tuesday, Dec. 4. “Every resident could use new clothing and personalized items.”

Call Scaglione at (609) 748-9900, ext. 1727 to arrange a donation. Drop-off deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 19 for the residents party Friday, Dec. 21.

“For many in nursing facilities the holidays can be a difficult time,” Scaglione said. “They have many memories of spouses, friends and family members who have passed on. It is important to us to bring our residents cheer.”

They provide special holiday programs such as themed parties, holiday baking and reminiscing programs, she said.

“We’re looking for people in the community to help make this holiday special for all of our residents,” Scaglione said. “When they call in, I’ll assign them a resident anonymously and tell them the size and a little something special that they ask for.”

The residents party features gift-giving, live entertainment, food and beverages, she said.

There are about 135 residents at Royal Suites.

Mary Conlin is 97 and came from Margate to live at Royal Suites less than a year ago.

“I enjoy the baking when we have it,” she said.

Activities assistant Kim Reynolds heads a baking club that meets weekly.

Conlin said she bakes biscotti.

“I know the recipe by heart,” said Conlin who will be 98 in March. “I enjoy everything they have here. The entertainment here is beautiful.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1915, Conlin said she has many holiday memories.

“We’re Italian,” she said. “We had seven-fish dinners. We used to have a midnight Mass. In this place they do come and serve communion.”

She said she hears from many relatives.

“I have a lot of great-nieces and nephews,” she said. “One calls every Friday. One in Iowa calls every Wednesday. One visits every week.”

Elizabeth Bargallo is going to be 95 Sunday, Dec. 23.

“I’ve been here five years,” Bargallo said. “I’m from South Egg Harbor. I have no relatives. I just have good friends. One family adopted me as their grandmom.”

Her holiday memories include going out as a young girl with her whole family to cut down a Christmas tree.

“It was around Thanksgiving,” Bargallo said. “We’d get on our horse and wagon and go through the woods. My father cut it down. We’d get a fresh one every year. That’s a long time ago.”

She said Christmas is an enjoyable time at Royal Suites.

“Alicia does a terrific job,” she said.

Fred Hughes is only 63, but he’s been at Royal Suites for a year. From Cape May Court House, he was born in Marion, S.C.

“The Eagles coach (former head coach Marion Campbell) got his name from there,” Hughes said of his birthplace. “I’ve been up here since I was 18.”

He doesn’t have happy childhood Christmas tree memories, Hughes said.

“We never could afford a tree,” he said. “I would decorate my house on the outside. When I got out and got married, we had a tree every year. I’d put up train tracks around it.”

Hughes said his son lives in Galloway and works at Richard Stockton College.

“I came here from the hospital,” he said. “It was because my son was here. I have a son and three grandkids. They visit now and then. I hope they’ll come over Christmas and bring me presents.”

Hughes said he worked for the last 25 years for the Cape May County Bridge Commission.

“I was a toll collector,” he said. “I worked on the Ocean City-Longport bridge and the Townsend Inlet bridge. I was also a DJ for 20 years. They called me Freddy Disco. My mother died just days before Christmas. I DJ’d in her honor. I know every church song. Christmas was a busy time.”

When he was young Easter was a busy time too, he said.

“It was me and four sisters,” Hughes said. “My mother would have to do up all their hairs.”

And, Hughes said, he’s still performing.

At a recent talent show at Royal Suites, he said he sang “My Girl.”

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