SIERRA VISTA — Home for the holidays has a different meaning for those staying in assisted living facilities and will have to stay there since they can’t travel to see family or have family come visit them.

In an effort to make veterans living in assisted living facilities feel remembered the American Legion Riders of Post 52 is giving them Christmas gifts. The group delivered 127 gifts to 11 facilities in Sierra Vista, Hereford and Huachuca City.

“The veterans in our community absolutely love receiving gifts from the American Legion during the holiday season,” said Prestige Assisted Living at Sierra Vista Community Relations Director Jodi Davis in a statement to the Herald/Review. “These gifts give our veterans a sense of importance as their time in service has not been forgotten. We appreciate everything that the American Legion does for our veterans at Prestige as they bring smiles to their faces every year!”

Bobby Wise, Director of the American Legion Riders Post 52, said the organization normally provides 45 to 60 gifts but because of the coronavirus that number has more than doubled.

“It’s not so often people get presents just for them at our age,” Mountain View Gardens Gracious Retirement Living resident Marilea Zavadin said. “It’s really appreciated when people remember us.”

The American Legion Riders raised money throughout the year with breakfasts, dinners and car washes to help fund the “Christmas for a Veteran” event. Wise said their annual bike ride charity raised $4,000 to go toward this year’s gift drive. When the community attends a breakfast, dinner or car wash all profits go toward purchasing of gifts for the Christmas event.

“There’s always a reason to give back,” Wise said. “Especially to veterans so they don’t feel forgotten about.”

The gift bags include shampoo, toothpaste, socks with grips on them, a throw blanket and other everyday items, which is what the veterans asked for according to Wise. In years past, the American Legion Riders would spend time with the veterans after they delivered the gifts, but with COVID-19 precautions they just dropped the gifts off on Christmas Eve at each of the destinations to be distributed by staff.

“It’s nice of them (to bring gifts),” Mountain View Gardens resident Herb Noth said. “It’s appreciated. It breaks the routine we have here a little bit.”