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Seniors Give a Little Bit of Christmas to Local Charities

The wrapping paper was flying at Ann's Choice Monday afternoon as resident volunteers prepared more than 500 gifts for needy children throughout Bucks County.

The dynasty has finally ended. After four years in a row as the senior with the fastest fingers at Ann's Choice, Nancy Bowers had to settle for second place in the retirement community's annual gift-wrapping competition.

Regular competitor Nancy Lee Breece stole this year's crown in the friendly contest, expertly wrapping six board games in five minutes, defeating Bowers and first-timer Terry Cooke by one gift.

"It's just a fun, friendly competition that helps a great cause," said Breece. "Of course, it always feels good to win."

The competition's prepared presents put a small dent in the more than 500 gifts that needed to be wrapped and ready to go by the end of the session. Tables lined half of the multi-purpose room at Ann's Choice's Keystone Clubhouse as dozens of senior volunteers got to work.

"We've been doing this for the past seven to eight years," said Susan Abtouche, philanthropy director at Ann's Choice. "Our residents love doing everything they can to give back to the community."

Abtouche says that this year's donations have been compile a bit differently. In the past, participating non-profits collected the gifts on their own through donation drives, then presented them to the Ann's Choice volunteers to wrap. This year, Abtouche decided to do the shopping herself.

"A lot of organizations are struggling these days to get donations," said Abtouche. "I looked at our charitable giving budget and saw that there was enough that I could use. It was actually a lot of fun getting the gifts, I am a very good shopper."

This year, the donated gifts will be given to two local charities. A recipient from last year's benefit, Child, Home and Community, a Doylestown-based United Way agency, assists pregnant teens in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

For the first time, Operation Ward 57's Honor & Courage program will also receive a portion of the donated gifts. Director Heather Sliwinski will transport the presents to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and give them to families of wounded soldiers recuperating at the hospital.

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